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The Melting Pot

A digital, cultural conversation

Everyone loves to hear the sappy story of a guy and girl seeing each other by happenstance one day in a café (so, a Starbucks) and leaving before they could get one another’s phone numbers (because the slips of paper they wrote them on usually fly away). Days, weeks, years go by, until the guy and girl see each other again (normally in a romantic spot, like the top of the Empire State building – really, what are the odds?) and run into each other’s arms and then ride off into the sunset.

But the reality is, that doesn’t happen too often. Or ever.

Cue technological advents to take care of satisfying our fairy-tale dreams.

The New York Times wrote a story about a guy with great biceps riding the London Underground –unbeknownst to him, some girls with an iPhone got a picture of him and put it up on TubeCrush.net, dubbing it “Popeye Guns!” It was a little shocking when he saw it later with his girlfriend.

The New York version is titled SubwayCrush.net, and its motto is “See. Snap. Share.” It’s a place where “your MTA man-crushes can be shared online,” bringing you the “sexy straphangers” and the “hunks of the underground.” In an age powered by mobile devices, the site is hot – it has anywhere from 4,000 to 28,000 visits a day.

He's a subway crush.

The process of doing this has got to be hilarious. We’ve all been in situations where our friends ask us to “pose for a picture” as they zoom in on the person directly behind us and snap a shot of them instead. Oh, it’s great fun when you’re reminiscing about that time and remembering the reason you took a picture of a stranger. But with mobile devices, it’s much more secretive. You hold up your phone and pretend to be texting (at eye level? Okay) and then get your shot and upload it, just like that!

Perhaps the culture of creeping is becoming more and more acceptable with different technological advents. When before was it deemed “okay” to take pictures of random strangers on the subway and post them on websites? Today, it seems to be the norm, in the creation of memes and “fails” posted on sites like FailBlog and Failbook.

If this generation has proved anything, it’s that if the creeping is harmless and funny for the masses, it’s fine. People posting to SubwayCrush.net aren’t trying to harm the men in any way, so it remains okay that they’re there, and it’s even flattering that people like them enough to get favorited.

And it’s fun. The idea of going in-depth with the people who ride the subway, which is often an isolated and quiet setting, seems remarkable. Instead of telling your friend about the hot guy you saw on the train, you can show her the photo on the website, and share it with others.

Fairy tales are supposed to be stupid, filled with unrealistic goals. And sure, close to none of the people who post on SubwayCrush probably ever get to meet their admirer. But isn’t it fun to dream? Fun to think about why he might be on the subway, or how often he rides the train, or how long it takes him to do his hair in the morning? Fairy tales aren’t successful because people realize their elusiveness – they are empowered by those who realize the falseness but embrace it, and revel in the chance of possibility. We’re dreamers when we look at sites like this – is that so wrong?

So is he.

It’s a way that we’re coming closer together and making the increasing world we live in much smaller. It makes merriment of the nuances and the fun of life – what is his backstory, do you think? Does he ride the subway every day? It seems that subway staring websites increase the preservation of happiness and the possibility of that potential Romeo forever.

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