Unlucky Date: Online Dating Prank Fails to Form ‘Involuntary Flashmob’

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The flyer promoting the flashmob.

Call it the curse of Friday the 13th. A few poor online daters were conned into showing up to non-existent dates. But at the core, the joke was on the organizers.

The gawkers that showed up in New York’s Times Square Friday evening hoping to see an online dating train wreck left mostly disappointed.

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As far back as March 22nd, fliers circulated around the pages of Reddit, 4chan and Tumblr, encouraging users to create fake online dating profiles to convince men in the New York City area to meet for a date at a payphone bank in the middle of Times Square. Of course, the other half of the date would be non-existent, hidden behind the anonymity of the Internet. Their intention was to lure many men to a single spot and create an “involuntary flashmob,” as the men did not realize they were being duped.

The clincher was that no matter where the fakers were located in the world, they’d be able to watch the gathering online – the payphone meeting place was in view of a public webcam.

But it appears that the joke was mostly on the pranksters. Those who showed up in person to see (read: mock) the heartbroken would-be daters found just a few stragglers hanging around. One blog could only verify three men who were waiting for a “date,” and others, when confronted, played coy and quickly made up excuses.

Perhaps it’s a sign that we all don’t believe everything we read on the Internet. Or perhaps it’s understood that real dates aren’t hatched at a bank of payphones in Times Square.

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