Venice Hancock | News Sub-Editor
In the age of coronavirus, dating, along with all other forms of social contact, has become a health risk. The vast majority of the world’s population now relies on digital technologies to stay in contact with their families, friends and loved ones. As couples resort to using Zoom and FaceTime to maintain their relationship, singles now have to rely solely on dating apps or social media to meet new people virtually.
However, the same cannot be said for Jeremy Cohen. The Brooklyn-based photographer was taking pictures documenting people in quarantine spending time on their roofs, when his attention was drawn to a young woman dancing. He waved at her from his window and she waved back. So, he decided to fly his drone over to the girl with his phone number stuck to it and she texted him about an hour later.
Cohen documented the whole thing and posted it on TikTok where the video instantly went viral, amassing over eight million views as of March 31. In the original video, Cohen states that “Flirting is normally daunting for me, but since I’ve been quarantined in my apartment for a week now I was craving some social interaction. 2020’s been off to a terrible start, but I still needed to shoot my shot.”
Since then, Cohen has taken the new relationship to the next level, all the while respecting New York City’s quarantine measures to prevent the spread of the virus. He first invited the girl from the roof, Tori Cignarella, on a dinner date, where he was sat outside on his balcony, and she joined him on her rooftop so the two could see each other from a distance and they were able to FaceTime during the dinner to get to know each other a little better.
While the date went very well, Cohen wanted to find a way for the two to meet up in person, while respecting social distancing guidelines. It was time for his “boldest move yet”. He hopped in an inflatable plastic bubble and surprised Cignarella on the sidewalk by her apartment. The two got to enjoy each other’s company and take a stroll down the streets of Brooklyn, almost as if it was normal. Cohen also bought his date some flowers and hand sanitizer “but that was a misstep, considering I was locked inside this bubble,”he added. As the pair enjoyed their romantic date, they were stopped by a group of police officers who had seen their story on the news and wanted to take a picture with them.
A couple weeks later, it was Cignarella’s birthday and Cohen wanted to do something extra special and romantic for the occasion. He proceeded to walk over to her apartment building, stood outside her window holding a boombox over his head, à la Say Anything. After the song, he told her to check her phone, where she would find a personalised video message from her favourite artist, LIGHTS, the whole thing was of course arranged by Cohen. He then tells her to make her way to her roof where, after some careful coordination between Cohen and Cignarella’s roommate, the birthday girl would find a celebratory cupcake from her beau. Cohen also decided to fly over some candles and a haiku he had written for her, taping them to his drone.
Cohen and Cignarella’s story went viral almost as soon as it was posted to the internet. The initial video now has over 11.9 million views on Jeremy Cohen’s TikTok (@jeremycohen). The story of the “Quarantine Cutie” has made headlines around the world and has sparked a conversation about human interaction during this time of quarantine. People need people and it is part of human nature to crave social contact. While these are difficult times, it is so important to respect the rules in place to make sure we can contain this virus, lessen the strain on healthcare systems and save as many lives as possible.
However, this does not mean we need to disconnect from each other. Digital technologies have made it possible for us who are fortunate enough to stay at home to connect with each other and continue to support one another. Things will get better and we will be together again. Until then, maybe this is the perfect opportunity to switch out Bumble and Tinder for more creative ways of dating, but from a distance.