Craigslist’s Missed Connections section is a haven for the shy, regretful romantics who spot the opportunity for a perfect meet-cute in a public place but then fail to jump at the chance. One recent post from New York City’s Missed Connections, for instance, is from a man who spotted a woman wearing great socks on the subway. “ I wanted to talk to you the whole time but I was nervous and didn't want to disturb you,” he writes. “When we both got off at Court Sq, I asked you about your socks. I really wanted to ask you to grab a coffee and go for a stroll on the waterfront sometime.”
But who are these would-be digital Romeos? Data journalist Ilia Blinderman analyzed 10,000 Craigslist Missed Connections posts from Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, San Antonio, and San Diego during the month of January. He dug deep to figure out who posts—what cities they live in, how old they are, and what the gender breakdown is—when they post, and what words they use. He molded this data into a series of visualizations that reveals just how weird Missed Connections can be.
Men seeking men and women seeking women are in the circles to the left of the "men" and "women" titles, respectively; heterosexual pairs are in the right-hand circles. Image Credit: Screenshot viaVox
Blinderman’s visualizations aren’t always that easy to read, design-wise, but his analysis about the most-used words in posts is full of surprises. The smaller white circles in the middle represent more common phrases. Women seeking women have a tendency to use the words “submissive lady,” “flower growing,” “special gift,” and occasionally, “disease free.” Men seeking women commonly are looking for someone with “dark hair” or “brown hair,” and mention having “locked eyes,” perhaps “last night” or in a “parking lot” (frankly, it’s probably better those men didn’t have the courage to start hitting on women in parking lots at night). Men seeking men also talk about parking lots, in addition to the “steam room,” with the stipulation that posting is a “long shot.”
A closer look at what men talk about when they're posting about other men.Image Credit: Screenshot via Vox
Unfortunately, the data that Blinderman can’t access is also the most interesting: how many of these posts actually result in connections? Probably not that many. But at least the hopeless romantics are keeping the faith.
See all the visualizations here.