Matthew Wurnig | Courtesy

Julia Kryzan is a journalism junior and Mustang News reporter. The views expressed in this special feature do not necessarily reflect the views of Mustang News. 

The coronavirus has impacted billions of people across the world, forcing educational experiences to transition online, non-essential workers to stay at home and placing an indefinite hold on our dating lives … or so we thought.

Connected by a screen, more than 1,000 miles apart, I sipped a grapefruit-flavored hard seltzer as he enjoyed a Twisted Tea. I’m on a date with a man I’ve never met before and probably never will.

In support of social distancing, Matthew Wurnig, the Bismarck Larks Director of Fun and recent graduate of North Dakota State University, challenged himself to go on virtual dates in all 50 states.

I was lucky enough to be his first date representing California and I had a lot of questions. 

Wurnig said he first thought of the idea for the project while exploring Tinder’s Passport feature, which allows users to set their location anywhere in the world.

“I wasn’t about to start a relationship online, I was just having fun,” Wurnig said. “I thought to myself, ‘Since I can’t see these [girls] in person, and since everyone is cooped up at home for the quarantine, what if I video-chatted with them?’”

On our date, we compared everything from bars and restaurants to a typical day-in-the-life. After six hours, it was hard to imagine that we had just matched on Tinder two days prior.

I must admit, as someone who has never been to North Dakota, I am now very tempted to check out their nightlife post-quarantine. Hearing about the overwhelming absence of cover charges and the ability to purchase drinks at certain bars for only a matter of cents definitely piqued my interest. 

Now, Wurnig has completed 25 dates in his campaign, sharing video clips of each on his social media. 

“I try to make all the dates different, whether we’re just talking, having drinks, playing games, wearing wacky outfits,” Wurnig said. “It’s great to have each date unique in its own way.”

Wurnig said his main goal for the project is to provide something positive and entertaining for people to watch and follow along. 

“I think that this is a way to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and do something different,” Wurnig said. “If I can go on 50 virtual dates with gals I don’t know, then anyone can hop on a call with a former friend, family member or someone new and reconnect.”

Quarantine has inconvenienced just about every aspect of our lives, but this experience in the virtual dating world has reminded me how important it is to approach these changes with an open mind and a little humor. 

Wurnig is documenting his dates on social media. To read more about his “50 Dates in 50 States” campaign, follow @matthewwurnig on Instagram and Matthew Wurnig on Facebook. 

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