A missed connection is a type of personal advertisement which arises after two people meet but are too shy or otherwise unable to exchange contact details. The Missed Connections section of Craigslist gets thousands of ads of this type every month for cities such as New York and San Francisco.
The feature was started by Jim Buckmaster, Craigslist's CEO, after he noticed a common type of posting in their personal ads, which he characterised as "you-smiled-at-me-on-the-subway-platform". He sees the format as addressing a common human need and being ideal for romantic comedy, "Missed Connections give people that second chance ... They represent persistence in the face of long odds, which definitely adds to their artistic appeal." A variety of such artistic works have been developed including illustrations, movies, plays, poetry and songs.
Other major cities have similar columns in Craigslist and their own local media. For example, London's Metro newspaper has a "Rush-hour Crush" column for commuters who exchange glances but nothing more. Many connections are re-established and couples have become married in this way, such as "tall rugby player" and "beautiful lady in the red dress with long brown curly hair". Various websites like Gumtree also offer the possibility of finding a missed connection.
The nature and location of missed connections have been analysed. Across the USA in 2013, the breakdown by sex was:
- 59% Man seeking woman
- 27% Man seeking man
- 13% Woman seeking man
- 1% Woman seeking woman
In the Pacific NW, the most common location was on the bus. In the Pacific SW, it was the gym. In the North East, it was the subway and train. In the Midwest, it was the supermarket. In Texas and the Gulf, it was Walmart.
The online format for this on Craigslist scrolls so that postings disappear after 45 days. This gives a second possibility of a poignant loss as the posting might not be seen in time to reunite the couple. Mobile phone apps such as Grindr or Spotted have been created which facilitate hook-ups between strangers immediately. These require location data which may be a security concern. Protocols for facilitating such encounters more safely have been proposed.
Art, Comedy, Movies, Plays and Poems
The topic has been used as a theme by artists and authors. The New York Transit Museum held a special exhibition of such work on Valentine's Day of 2011. Sophie Blackall's Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found was featured. One of her favourites was We Shared a Bear Suit at an Apartment Party — "I thought that was brilliant. How could you share a bear suit with somebody and not exchange any details? It seemed like such an intimate thing to do." Poet Alan Feuer was also featured. He has turned such entries into poetry with themes such as elevators or intoxication; for example:
To Jennifer the Chinese Girl Who Drank and Passed Out
Jennifer the Chinese girl
who passed out.
You met me
the tall european guy
and I invited you for a drink.
I bought the half pitcher of sangria
You downed those three drinks
and I told you
you were drinking too fast
and to sip them
O.M.G. you passed out in the bathroom
and the owners called an ambulance
I feel so bad ...
I never got your number
and I want to know
that you are OK.
Other artistic uses of the theme include Missed Connections NY — a theatrical presentation of thirteen vignettes and comic songs — by the Upright Citizens Brigade  and the long-running Missed Connections: An Exploration into the Online Postings of Desperate Romantics. A variety of romantic movies have been made about couples meeting through personal ads such as Desperately Seeking Susan and Sleepless in Seattle. One movie was named after the Craigslist feature — Missed Connections. It starred Sting's daughter, Mickey Sumner, and opened at the Savannah Film Festival in 2012.
- Jennifer Lee (February 23, 2005), "Romance Beckons (in Case You Missed It)", New York Times
- Alan Fueur (February 5, 2010), "You-Caught-My-Eyes as Creative Kindling", New York Times
- "Metro’s Rush-Hour Crush sparks marriage proposal", Metro, 19 Apr 2013
- Manweiler, J., Scudellari, R. and Cox, L.P., SMILE: Encounter-based Trust for Mobile Social Services, Duke University, 2009
- Dorothy Gambrell (2013), "Final Analysis", Psychology Today
- Brian Oliu (2012), "Adventure Island", Metawritings, University of Iowa Press, pp. 192–193, ISBN 9781609380892
- Justin Manweiler; Ryan Scudellari; Zachary Cancio; Landon P. Cox (2009), "We saw each other on the subway: secure, anonymous proximity-based missed connections", HotMobile '09 Proceedings of the 10th workshop on Mobile Computing Systems and Applications (ACM New York), doi:10.1145/1514411.1514412, ISBN 978-1-60558-283-2
- This Valentine's Day, A Sweet Look At Almost Love, NPR, February 12, 2011
- Alan Feuer (January 21, 2012), "Inebriated Love", New York Times
- Alan Feuer (August 5, 2011), "The Ups and Downs of Attraction", New York Times
- Frank Scheck (7 November 2012), "Missed Connections: Film Review", Hollywood Reporter
- Blackall, Sophie (2011), Missed Connections: Love, Lost and Found, Workman Publishing Company, ISBN 9780761163589
- Oliu, Brian (2011), So You Know It's Me, Tiny Hardcore Press, ISBN 9780983562504
- Wertz, Julia (2009), I Saw You: Comics Inspired by Real-Life Missed Connections, Crown Publishing Group, ISBN 9780307452610