By Kiana Doyle
Meeting new people from the confinement of our own homes can seem difficult, if not impossible. To provide a fun way for students to connect during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Western meme Instagram account, @wwuvikingmemes, introduced something new at the end of April: the first ever Western matchmaking service.
The Instagram account @wwuvikingmemes features relatable memes about life as a student at Western and has almost 5,000 followers. The anonymous account holder presented the service, WWU Matchmaking, on April 23 with a post on Instagram.
“Fill out a form linked in bio to get matched with someone at Western!!” the post by @wwuvikingmemes said.
The service accepted applications until April 30. To apply, applicants filled out a Google Doc page filled with questions ranging from the typical “What are you looking for in a match?” to other, more unusual questions, such as, “In a lecture hall, where do you sit?”
The service was not only designed to pair students looking for a romantic relationship; applicants could also choose the option of looking for a “girl friend,” “guy friend,” or simply, “does not matter.”
Ali Migliore, a professional matchmaker for Simply Matchmaking in Seattle, said she thinks WWU Matchmaking is a cool idea and wishes the matchmaking team luck.
“I think that no matter what your age is, I think it’s always hard to meet people, whether it’s for a relationship or for a friendship, so I think the more organizations or apps or companies out there that can bring people together the better,” Migliore said.
Victor Gonzalez, a fourth-year at Western, reached out to the meme account after he signed up for the service himself, asking if he could help out with the matchmaking.
“I wasn’t part of the idea at all, I’m just the one who reached out to the account and I offered my assistance,” Gonzalez said.
After the account holder accepted his offer, Gonzalez said he was sent email access to an Excel sheet of the applicants and their responses.
Gonzalez said the matchmaking service started as an idea presented by the meme account in a poll on Instagram asking if their followers would be interested in a matchmaking service, which ended up resulting in about 80% positive responses.
Gonzalez said in the first day alone, the service got 135 responses. By the application deadline a week later, Gonzalez said there were a total of 475 respondents.
Gonzalez said the matchmaking process was time-consuming and the work was split up between him, the meme account owner, who remained anonymous even to him, and a few other volunteers.
The job of the matchmaking team was to help pick the matches, organized with the Microsoft Excel sheet of responses and a Microsoft Word document listing the matches. The meme account holder was the one in charge of letting the applicants know who their matches were via Instagram direct messaging, he said.
“First, we looked at their majors and tried to find some common area right there, then we looked at their hobbies,” Gonzalez said.
One example he listed was connecting students with a common interest in the popular Nintendo game “Animal Crossing.”
Claire Nickols, a second-year at Western who had signed up for the matchmaking service to make a new friend, said this was how she got matched with another student.
“They matched us up and she came and visited my Animal Crossing town,” Nickols said. “She had just gotten the game, so I gave her a coffee machine and some other stuff to help her out.”
Gonzalez said the matchmaking service has gone smoothly besides the minor problem that the meme account owner ran into with Instagram limiting how many people they could message, making the process of getting in touch with the matches a little more difficult.
“I have matched everyone but it’s taking me longer than expected to DM the matches,” a post from @wwuvikingmemes said. “Instagram won’t let me send a bunch at a time.”
A disclaimer at the bottom of the advertisement post for the matchmaking service states WWU Matchmaking is not a “guaranteed service,” so it was not promised that everyone would get matched with someone they would connect with.
Amy Kellogg, a third-year at Western, also said she signed up for the matchmaking service to find a new friend. The person she was matched with ended up not having that much in common with her, and communication between the two ended quickly, she said.
Despite her unsuccessful match, she still does not regret trying out the matchmaking service.
“I think that it was a great idea,” Kellogg said. “I think that overall it was entertaining and I hope that some good things come out of it, hopefully some people make new friends or relationships come out of it.”