The Rise of the Card-Carrying Flirt

So a year into its big entry into the world, the card dating trend is still alive, well, and kicking strong enough to have spread into well over half the country and several international spots. Yes, this could be known as Online Dating: The Next Generation, in which participants hand to their interest du moment a small business-sized card somewhere along the flirty/sexy/stalky/awkward spectrum that directs them to a private online profile (which only they can access because of the special code listed on the card) flush with personal contact information. If all parties are on the same page, a date will result; if not, disappointment will.

This all really came to bloom last year with the rise of the two currently dominate companies, Cheek’d and FlipMe, the first of which straddles the line between risqué and odd (example lines: “I’m cooler than your date,” and “I need a date to my sister’s wedding”), the other clearly aimed at the female half of the population because that website is just way too curlicued for any self-respecting lumberjack. I was apparently eyebrows deep elsewhere entirely because this was all news to me when I read about it yesterday.

Bringing it to my attention is yet another card company: MeSayingHi. This one’s been around just about as long, if not longer than its competitors, but, being more of a one-man show run on the sidelines of his day job — that one man being interface design contractor Andrew Jordan — it’s been in the soft launch stage for about a year, and is just gearing up for the real deal. Like the others, the point is to avoid missed connections with a we’re-having-a-moment-on-the-subway-but-I-have-to-run-(or-maybe-I’m-just-shy)-so-take-this-card. Everything about it is much more straightforward than its competitors, and it’s aimed to appeal more broadly to both genders without ever getting over the top. Its cover line? “Hi” (on the back, the self-effacing, “just trying to avoid a missed connection.”). Consider it a strong beer compared to the martini and daiquiri incarnations of the first two. Plus, you get to customize your card colors and fonts. Oh, and except for the purchase of the cards (50 for $20), there are no other fees or expiration, unlike the others. So he’s got some definite high points going for him.

All three of these, unless I am mistaken, were spawned out of New York, which I can only therefore assume is full of sad but sassy people exchanging eye contact on the train and kicking themselves for not acting on it.

That said, having garnered himself about a thousand users now that are mainly scattered across New York, the West Coast, and, curiously enough, Hawaii, Jordan is now looking at Boston. It’s his next big city to nail down, and more power to him, but I can’t help but wonder how this will play out. New York, if I may speak completely in stereotype for a minute here, is jam-packed with the bold and ballsy, people who would not shy away from slipping a suggestive card leading to their photograph and information into the back pocket or dinner plate of a complete stranger. Boston — still talking stereotype — is a little more cobblestones-and-analysis, and highly populated with more academic and research professions than comparable areas. Jordan assures me even his more reserved friends have loved his cards when they tested them, and has hopes that the simpler style of his brand will appeal more strongly here. I’m tempted to think it will, but mostly because I know I definitely haven’t the testicular fortitude or whatever it takes to go around handing out a card emblazoned with “I’m cooler than your date” to guys already out on an actual date with someone else.

I don’t know, it’s a fun idea — but will it take off? I’m genuinely curious, and mostly see it from my own shy-and-awkward perspective. Let me know what you think in the comments section. (And if you’ve already been carded by any of these place, I’m even more curious — what was your reaction?)