Find Your Lost Love

At 10:23 p.m. on Jan. 29, 17 words appeared in a new post at the top of a Craigslist post: “I just wish I were with you right now. Whatever you’re doing…God knows. I adore you.” An hour later came a public reply: “Life is too short not to be with the one you adore. I miss somebody too. You are not alone in your sadness.”

This passing conversation between two Internet strangers disappeared from the top of the list of posts within a few hours as more posts appeared. It was a quick conversation, impersonal even, but having the outlet to express your desire for your other half is cathartic. Maybe these two strangers will find one another someday.

The idea of “soul mates” is like the concept of God – you either believe in it or you don’t. Is there one person out there for everyone? And if there is, how do you find that person?

With over six billion people in the world, finding that one person that completes you seems impossible. Luckily, if you’re part of the 25 percent of the world that uses the Internet, there’s always Craigslist to help you.

Under the Personals is a section called Missed Connections. The section was created in 2000 when employees started noticing an increase of “I saw you…” posts. Currently, Missed Connections is home to messages searching for people, as well as late-night general thoughts about love and loss and desperate attempts for hook-ups.

For the wandering halves of a whole, Missed Connections serves as an opportunity to find someone they crossed paths with during a random chance of fate. Helped a girl with her luggage at the airport but didn’t catch her name? Post it on Craigslist and maybe she’ll be looking for you too. What about that cute new cashier at Albertsons you didn’t have the guts to flirt with in person? Write up your inner monologue and unleash it to the Internet.

Whether it’s an accident or the result of serendipity playing its fickle game, is the real reason behind chance encounters with strangers an attempt to put people together as if pairing them for Noah’s Ark? Are we all really just searching for our soul mate, our other half?

Of course, the reality is that there’s a very slim chance the person you’re thinking about is also looking for you on Craigslist. Some posts garner multiple replies from other Missed Connections browsers just passing by and some posts are met with responses from random people. Whether that’s a good thing or not (and judging by the pool of creepers on the World Wide Web, maybe it’s not a good thing at all), Missed Connections is connecting you with someone, somewhere.

Missed Connections acts as a forum for people that are too hesitant to act in the moment. “I sat next to you in Existential Psychology today,” begins one poster, begging for her hot classmate to contact her. Others use the Missed Connections forum to try and reconnect with lost contacts: “We used to chat everyday. Even if it was just platonic it was awesome getting to know you.”

Sometimes, it’s comforting to get your emotions off your chest. Unleashing them in the anonymous world of Craigslist is one way to do it. “We work across the way from each other at South Coast Plaza,” writes one brave soul. “Today you were crying and I wanted to be there for you so bad, but I wasn’t sure how to approach it.”

Not all the posts are related to romance, though. Some people are just reaching out for a friend. One woman wrote a message to “Depressed Guy at Target Pharmacy Counter,” hoping for his well-being and extending a hand of friendship if he was in need. Missed Connections isn’t just about finding your soul mate, it seems; sometimes, it’s comforting just to find a friend.

It’s unclear whether those who post on Craigslist in search of a stranger are actually expecting results, but their messages into the Internet galaxy are not just a mindless activity. It’s simply human nature to be searching for contact with others, hoping to form a close bond with another person. Missed Connections may not be the most realistic way to forge that deeper connection with someone, but it keeps the idea alive that there is someone out there for everyone.