In the wake of the nightmare-turned-reality that is a Donald Trump presidency, some Americans looking to flee the country have turned to Maple Match, an app that connects them with Canadians for strictly romantic purposes and definitely not visa purposes.
Since the election results, the app has tripled its user sign-ups, many of them claiming they are seriously considering moving north.
I needed to know how serious they were so I gave the app a shot to see if dudes were really thinking about leaving their motherland.
The first guy I talked to on Maple Match, Eric, jokingly asked if I was interested in a sham wedding while foolishly neglecting to make an offer.
Another guy, Kyle, discussed the election and some of his anxieties surrounding Trump's presidency. He said he was concerned that Trump would repeal the Affordable Care Act and overturn the decision to legalize same sex marriage, both legit concerns.
Trying to understand how it had gotten to this point, I asked Kyle what he thought had happened that would allow someone like Trump to become president. "There's a large group of people who are sick of the party politics and sick of politicians," he said. "They feel like Washington doesn't care about them and they're willing to vote for anyone who promises to shake things up."
A guy named Frank said that he had been bummed all day over the results. He said that he was honestly afraid for the next few weeks. Fights had broken out in the parking lot of his college because someone wearing a Trump hat and a shirt that said "Hillary for prison" started arguing with someone else.
By the second day and third day, many of my matches compared the feeling to recovering from a terrible hangover. Others were more optimistic; one noted that he had been planning to move to Toronto anyway, and Frank said he'd been to B.C. for a wedding. Kyle said he was interested in moving for adventure. He'd been to Quebec City once and thought it was nice. It is.
Trying to maximize my matches, I tweaked my bio and tried a couple of different angles to see if if could get more responses. First I attempted to turn the tables by claiming that I was looking to move to the States, which wasn't entirely untrue; I would like to live in California one day. Most of my matches were immediately turned off and stopped responding. Although one genius did suggest we could trade passports.
A lot of my American matches held romantic notions of Canada as a haven for progressives, offering free health care, more job opportunities, and "sustainable living" (whatever that means). There was a shared notion of Canada being 'super chill,' modern, and, of course, friendly. When I tried to explain that we have own own issues that need addressing to dispel some of the stereotypes, once again I was promptly ignored.
Finally, as much as it pains me to admit, I eventually posed as a Trump supporter, and I was either met with hostility or silence. When I asked Cody, whose profile description said he's in a "power pop band," if he could help me move to the US, he charmingly responded with, "I mean I could, but I'm trying to move to Canada to spread my US HIV to as many Canadians as possible."
While I didn't expect much from the app to begin with, it was even more disappointing than I had imagined. Not only did it constantly crash and had difficulty loading messages, but it was boring. Unlike Tinder, there was the geographical factor that hindered the potential for a genuine connection, both emotional and physical; an overambitious task for any app. Tinder is always knocked for being built on instant gratification, but compared to the slow burn model of Maple Match, I began to appreciate its directness and immediacy.
It became obvious that this was not about forming real connections (not that I expected it to be), but it was about indulging in a fantasy. The romanticized descriptions of Canada and Canadians were a giveaway; it's mostly perceived as a wide expanse of unexplored wilderness, filled with women eager host a nobel American man fleeing the burning ruins of his homeland. The reality was that unless they had been considering it before the election, most of these dudes weren't going to leave their house on the hill.
Overall, it seemed many people using Maple Match were either experiencing post-election anxiety that, after a week, had mostly subsided. Others had already been considering moving before the election and were not interested in hearing anything that might tarnish their idealized view of Canada. Either way, it was clear that I wasn't the Canadian girl of their American dreams.
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