In a rare case of Internet-stalking-gone-good, one NYU student has taken to Reddit to reconnect with the sophomore of his dreams. During last week’s Nor’easter, NYU student and Reddit user “strap,” who requested we refer to him only as Tom, was walking up snowy University Place, and offered an umbrellaless female NYU student space under his. After walking for a few blocks, sharing the intimate kind of moments only a dry square foot in a torrential storm can provide, he was smitten. They’d shared first names, majors, which town they came from. But the dude forgot the first rule of the game: You gotta get her digits!
Lovelorn and without any Google-able information, Tom went where people with weird requests and a desire to stay anonymous go: Reddit! The NYU sub-reddit (sub-reddits are micro-communities dedicated to specific topics) usually receives questions from incoming freshman, announcements of university events, reviews of classes. But late Wednesday night, Tom posted the community’s first ever missed connection.
“She’s about 5’4″ from what I could tell, skinny, brunette,” he noted, along with her school (Steinhardt), major (Art History) and hometown (Chicago — “but she could be from a neighboring, smaller town/city.”). If that info was not enough, Tom clarified she is “REALLY cute.”
With tears of compassion in their eyes, Tom’s readers (Over 1,000 users subscribe to the NYU sub-reddit) began scouring the web to locate his anonymous sweetheart. “She was probably going to the SCPS building, 7 E. 12th. Its between University and 5th,” wrote user CarsJBear. “Go to the Facebook group for your class … and search under members for her name,” wrote user skintightmonopoly. For days, Redditors — NYU students who tend to be proficient at Facebook stalking — searched and searched, but found nothing.
Then suddenly, success. Saturday night, the user spiceupyourlife posted, simply, “I FOUND HER!” Tom soon updated the original post in confirmation. “She has been found!!!!” he wrote, with the excitement only four exclamation points can convey. Followers of the saga received a final update: “Sent friend request, will deliver results when new developments arise. Thanks for all the help r/NYU!”
Of course, some might find Tom’s organized trackdown of his crush a bit over-the-top, creepy even. “Just don’t take the searching overboard,” wrote user wasnt_a_lurker. “Know when to let it go.” Not helping the case against Tom’s creepiness was him asking, two days after the original post, “Any computer programmers that can write a script to search query all the matching names in the directory along with various suburbs of Chicago?” It would be Hackers meets Crazy Stupid Love — how romantic!
But in an age when we put our lives on display for all to see, when we not only enjoy but expect the ability to locate and contact anyone online (“You’re don’t have Facebook? What do you mean you don’t have Facebook?!”), Tom did nothing too different than what most do every day. Like a modern Meg Ryan from Sleepless in Seattle, he used the tools at his disposal to track down someone with whom he’d made a connection; in a rare occurrence, he brought the NYU community together to work towards a common good.
We’ve reached out to the users involved for comment, and will update as the story relationship progresses.