Getting stood up on a first date can be painful. But what if you found out it was all part of a massive prank? I went down to 46th and Broadway in Times Square with Know Your Meme's Don Caldwell to scope out the action.
This flier began circulating around 4chan, Reddit, and Tumblr beginning on March 22nd and on Urlesque by the 24th. For people who frequent these parts of the web, this prank was common knowledge. But not everyone who uses online dating sites is necessarily reading Reddit.
EarthCam via Know Your Meme
Don and I arrived at 7:40, and didn't see much at first. There were a dozen people with cameras, the few odd teens dressed in suits vehemently adhering to Rules 1 and 2, and then after looking hard enough, we started to notice a handful of guys fidgeting with their cell phones that didn't seem to be in on the joke but were hanging around expecting something none the less.
That's when I realized the man standing next to me was one of the victims.
After letting him in on the prank, he seemed to take it all in stride, although he asked for his face not be shown in the video. (courtesy Know Your Meme)
EarthCam via Know Your Meme.
The intended effect of an "involuntary flashmob" turned out to be hard to realize. Whether it was because knowledge of the gag was too widespread, or the single guys blended in too well with the typical mob of Times Square tourists it wasn't a bad distraction.
The best part of all happened near the end when a red haired girl approached one of the guys, introduced herself, and they walked off holding hands. I didn't get footage because it was so unexpected.
It was only after reading BetaBeat's coverage that I found out that Steven Liu of Lean Startup Machine and brought three girls to replace the non-existent dates.