“I was so nervous. I knew so many people were watching.”
Reed Bjork felt anxious as he walked toward The KK, a popular college bar near the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He was about to meet a pretty young woman for the first time — and a bunch of Snapchat strangers were there to witness it.
Within 24 hours, their romance unfolded on UW’s campus Snap Story, capturing the attention of the student body. In subsequent days, the story of how they met went Internet viral. The YouTube video montage had more than 1.3 million views at the time of writing.
Last Thursday morning, Bjork, 22, learned he had an admirer. Abby Diamond, also 22 and a UW student, had posted a simple plea to the local campus story on Snapchat around 11 a.m.: “To the guy wearing the Vikings jersey in the UW Snap Story, I’m seriously in love with you. Find me.”
When Bjork’s friend told him to check the Story, he was intrigued and attracted: “To the girl from Memorial Library. It looks like they took down my first Snap. That’s ok, if it’s fate maybe they’ll post this one. Meet me here.”
“She’s really pretty! Why not? There’s no harm,” Bjork tells Mashable he thought at the time. He was flattered.
But Diamond, never imagining her mystery guy would see her Snap or even respond, missed his invitation.
When she did see his response, she felt relieved. “I was thrilled because then I didn’t look desperate.” She asked her roommate what to say next, then took down her hair, changed her clothes and played a “cat and mouse game.” She put the ball back in his court. Eventually, they settled on The KK as a place to meet.
Each of their attempts to connect was posted on UW’s Snapchat Story. Other students caught on and the momentum built; people posted their support for the “fated” couple and dropped helpful hints in the process. Someone even created custom Snapchat geofilters in support of the couple.
“Updating my Snapchat every 30 seconds, rooting for you guys!” users crooned. Everyone hoped for a romantic rom-com ending to a simple social media post.
Eventually, Diamond and Bjork ended up meeting at The KK around 1:30 a.m., despite the latter’s nerves. A crowd of people hovered at the bar, essentially pushing the two together for a hug — while capturing it all on Snapchat.
Their romance wouldn’t have happened without the support of their campus, which Bjork calls “close-knit” and “super friendly.”
“I think it’s because we were complete strangers,” Diamond says now, via phone interview. “It was kind of like Romeo and Juliet…They were rooting for us to get together.”
Diamond and Bjork have been “hanging out” since Thursday, mainly studying and taking a few media interviews.
“‘School before anything else,'” says Diamond’s mom, according to Diamond. “She’s happy but just a little worried [of the fame].”
Their friends, on the other hand, are psyched. Besides people recognizing them on the street and asking for autographs, dozens of friends are texting, sharing articles and questions to their Facebook profiles, letting them know Snapchat posted their Story all the way in New York. “‘I need updates!’ ‘What’s happening now?’ ‘Have you hung out?’ ‘Have you guys clicked?’ ‘Do you have anything in common?'” they ask.
The couple hasn’t even had their first date.
“When this starts dying down, we’ll start going on dates then,” says Diamond, who graduates in two weeks with a degree in zoology. Bjork will graduate in December with a biomedical engineering degree. Both plan to stay in town this summer. Both are considering med school.
But via phone, one can sense a little early flirtation.
“I was trying to be funny,” says Diamond now, of making the first move. “I think it kind of paid off…”
“I thought it was funny,” Bjork laughs sweetly.