“At speed dating: male, black hair. You were No. 17. You are so my type. So cute and interesting. Kinda shy, but you know how to open up. Hehe, I really hope we meet again. ^_^”
This submission joined hundreds of other posts on the new website Like a Little on the afternoon of Feb. 5. The site has recently gathered a following at UC Santa Cruz.
Similar to the missed connections page on Craigslist, Like a Little is a way for people to anonymously post about someone who has caught their eye around campus. Evan Reas, creator of the site, launched Like a Little in October 2010. He saw the website as a way for shy people to put themselves out there more without having to identify themselves.
“[Like a Little] lets people break the ice and flirt with people around them in an extremely easy way,” Reas said in an e-mail. “Because it is anonymous, it gets rid of all the awkwardness, and there is no downside of telling somebody how you feel.”
Like a Little is just one example of some of the new ways in which people look to find a significant other, a date or just a friend. People have branched out from the usual small talk at parties to anonymous posts on the Internet and dozens of first dates at the College Nine and Ten speed dating event.
Every two minutes a bell chimes over the sound of hundreds of voices at the Colleges Nine and Ten Multi-Purpose Room. Over 200 people got to experience multiple first dates in one night as they circled the 30 or so tables that filled the room. Each table, which seated six, was adorned with a little candle surrounded by chocolate kisses and sugar sweethearts.
Jessa Rabanal, an undeclared first-year from College Nine, was one of the 209 people who attended. In the line of women crowding the entrance waiting to be seated, Rabanal’s hopes were not exclusively to look for romance, but to meet new people as well.
“[My hopes are] to probably find someone at least to say, ‘I hope to see you around sometime,’” Rabanal said. “Maybe an add on Facebook.”
These kinds of connections are what Nick Margarite had in mind when he started this event at UCSC three years ago. Margarite, a class of 2010 alumnus, worked at the Colleges Nine and Ten programs office and decided to bring speed dating to UCSC after hearing about it at a conference for residential advisors.
Margarite started the event hoping that it would create a safe and inclusive space for students to meet new people in a less intimidating environment.
“It gives them an opportunity to meet people that they’re comfortable with,” Margarite said. “They don’t have to feel shy.”
Tables labeled “Boy Meets Boy,” “Girl Meets Girl” and “Boy Meets Girl” provided an opportunity for speed-daters to interact with whomever they wanted to.
It’s useful to have the chance to meet people outside of the typical college lifestyle of beer pong parties every Friday night, or classes every Monday morning, Krystinne Maica said. Maica, the current advisor for the Colleges Nine and Ten community programs office, advocates for speed dating as a way for people who choose to abstain from the stereotypical college lifestyle to go out and meet people.
“There are not a lot of outlets for people to meet that don’t involve drinking and that kind of stuff,” Maica said.
The speed dating event brought together both students looking for romance and those looking to get out of their rooms and meet new people.
These unconventional ways of meeting people have become more popular in recent years. In 2006 Charles Whyte started the CruzDate website, an exclusive UCSC dating site. Whyte, a class of 2006 alumnus, started the site after hearing about other students’ idea to potentially start a dating club. The dating club had all the elements of an online dating website, but was being conducted by hand, so Whyte had the idea to expand it exponentially through the Web.
Whyte is an advocate of online dating, as he sees how the average ways in which people meet can be troublesome.
“I feel good about the increased popularity of online dating, as it’s a great way to meet new people without having to feel too awkward,” Whyte said in an e-mail.
Ultimately, these means of meeting new people are picking up steam because people enjoy the combination of a wide selection and a less intimidating environment. Sites like CruzDate and Like a Little as well as events like Speed Dating create a space for all students with a variety of intentions to seek out new friends and possible suitors.
His sentiments, as well as those of the organizers of speed dating and the users of Like a Little can be summarized in a short statement seen on the home page of CruzDate:
“The campus is big, and it is sometimes hard to meet the right people.”