An older friend of mine once told me that one of the things that she found odd about millennials is the way we handle awkward, vulnerable moments. For example, when she was younger, if someone passed gas in a group, not only would the person who let one loose not say anything, but everyone in the affected area would carry on as though nothing were amiss. In our generation, we laugh and if the guilty doesn’t confess, someone might ask, “What’s that smell?” or, “Who beasted?” In other words, what was once taboo and “hush hush” is pretty much on display for many millennials who grew up during the heyday of reality TV.
In a day where it’s normal to post your relationship status on Facebook for everyone to see (or for all your Facebook friends to see depending on your privacy settings,) developing a thick skin for embarrassment can be a necessity. Today, being vulnerable is the cost you pay to be connected. Critics of this new trend say we are selling our privacy for vanity, but the truth is, that’s not the only thing we get in return. Sometimes we get a random connection with a friend we haven’t seen in a long time, and sometimes we even make new friends that blossom long before we even meet in person. Enter: Single Adventist of the Week.
Once upon a time as a young single Adventist, you would go to college anticipating meeting your future spouse. However, for those that didn’t attend an Adventist University, your next option was youth gatherings, camp meetings, vesper nights or youth socials. If your Adam or Eve didn’t come to these events, you were left with very limited options, “Should I stay single forever? Should I claim that Paul life?”
Recently, many single Adventists have turned to online dating, only to discover that the person they have been eyeing out from campmeeting hasn’t signed up. Some still choose to try this medium to meet that special someone, yet they are secretive about it because of the stigma associated with online dating. Well, now there’s an alternative!
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Last week I discovered an Instagram page called “Single Adventist of the Week” @saotw.7 that does weekly features on single Adventists from around the world in a humorous yet tasteful way. The page also shares quotes and encouragement, fully loaded with your favourite emojis.
When a person is featured, a special “SaotW” badge is mailed out to them, bridging the gap between the virtual and the physical. I had a chance to talk with the founder of SAotW, who has chosen to remain anonymous, at least until you spot them on the insta-live videos…
Lee: So what inspired you to start Single Adventist of the Week?
Founder: The inner circle of my friendship group consists of committed, single, Adventists who work full-time, are very involved in their local church’s respective ministries and didn’t attend Adventist Universities, hence, missing the opportunity to graduate with a degree + spouse combo. With the demands of their job and other commitments, there is very little time to meet like-minded people. I have had a lot of people come up to me and say, “Where are the quality men/women?” I wanted SAotW to be a platform to challenge that notion – there are quality people out there; you just haven’t met them yet… But now you can, virtually!
Lee: That’s awesome. There are already some dating sites out there to connect Adventist singles. What’s different about SAotW?
Founder: We’re not a dating site; our intention is to build community and connect like-minded people. If a relationship develops as a result from those connections, praise the Lord! Dating sites assume that you can make a decision about pursuing someone with no relational connection, yet the information isn’t there to make that call! We simply exist to build those connections between people.
Lee: True! And yes, I’ve noticed you insert relationship advice which is so cool. I’ve also noticed that there’s some humor going into the posts and to be honest, when I first saw it, I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be a joke or serious, but then I saw my friend holding a “Still Single” sign and I was like, “Ok, this is for real.” But still, it seems like there’s an edge of humor to it and your use of emojis give it a playful vibe. Even the name itself is sort of funny. So what role does humor play in SAotW? Especially considering the vulnerability of putting yourself out there as a single person who’s open to finding someone.
Founder: Haha – well, we don’t want to come across as too serious. We don’t want people coming on here thinking, “this is the solution to all my single problems!” It’s also an Aussie (Australian) thing; we don’t take things too seriously down under.
Lee: Yes! I totally see that and love it. So far have all the people featured been from Australia? If so, are you wanting to open it up beyond the border?
Founder: Yes! We’d love to expand beyond the borders of Australia. In Australia, the Adventist community is a lot smaller than abroad. We’d love to feature single Adventists from all corners of the globe who are involved in ministry yet haven’t had the time or opportunity to meet their helpmeet 😉
Lee: Awesome! Can you speak a bit more on the application process? Does each person featured have to be recommended by a friend?
Founder: Currently, I’m working through my direct networks of single friends, or am approaching trusted friends who understand the concept and can recommend people they know who might fit the bill. Generally, I’m targeting (but not limited to) those who love Jesus, are involved in some form of ministry, generally more than 25 years old and practice what they preach; people nominate their friends based on this criteria. You can’t nominate yourself to go up; people that are in it for those reasons generally just want to plug themselves – we’re not about that.
Lee: Do you have plans to expand this to Facebook, maybe put up a web page or do you want to keep it exclusively on Instagram?
Founder: At this stage it will be limited to Instagram – that’s all I can manage at the moment.
Lee: Ok, great. Any words from the heart for the Adventist singles out there that are going to be all over this Instagram page?
Founder: Don’t let your relationship status define you; you are so much more than that! If you like what you see in someone, don’t overthink the process of getting to know them; first, be their friend without the expectation of it developing further. Take time to get to know their character, their friends, family and see how they operate in a ministry context. If it all checks out, seek God in prayer and ask Him to open and close doors accordingly. Additionally, there are decent people out there! Get out of your comfort zone – nothing exciting ever happens there. If you see someone you might like to develop a friendship with who is featured on SAotW, say hi!
Lee: Great advice. I know that there’s much more where that came from on the Instagram account. You’ve made it clear that Single Adventist of the Week is not a dating site, why is that something important to clarify?
Founder: Dating sites only appeal to a specific demographic and often come with the assumption that you WILL find someone as long as you’re signed up for an extended period of time. SAotW doesn’t guarantee you a spouse. By following SAotW, you may have a new insta-friend who you can meet at the next Adventist gathering or when you go to the other side of the world! See where it goes from there… Begin a friendship first!
Lee: Ok, great so in a way, this is a more organic and natural way for single Adventists to meet each other on social media. I’m really excited to see where this goes and how God uses it to bring people together. Thanks so much for your time!
I have found that this page showcases single people who have a lot going for them and far from coming across as desperate or overly serious; it has an exciting tone that sounds something like, “Yo. I’m single. My friends keep trying to find me someone, but they have failed. Maybe it’s because I haven’t met you yet. Do we share any common goals or interests? Let’s see. Read my blurb. Say hi!”
Of course, enjoying this page requires getting past one’s own uncomfortable feelings of seeing someone else be vulnerable, yet confident and open at the same time (ehem, speaking for myself). But after a few minutes of actually reading about the people featured, I saw that the openness of the platform makes it a great way for people to connect and see how many awesome single men and women are in the church and living full lives for God.
Maybe you’ve heard about the study done stating that among couples who married between 2005 and 2012, one third of them met online. Interestingly, the study also found that those who met online were happier and less likely to file for divorce than those who didn’t. Given that this study was done six years ago, and people are spending more time on the internet now than ever before, the number of people meeting online is only going to increase. I think Single Adventist of the Week has the potential to blow up. What do you think? How likely do you think a page like this is to connect Adventist millennials and even lead to happy marriages? Also, did you even finish this article before going to check it out? If not, wait no longer! Hit up @saotw.7