“What is Stitch, exactly?”
The question above is something I get asked quite a lot. That may not seem all that surprising – it’s quite reasonable for someone who hasn’t heard about Stitch before to ask what it is.
What IS surprising is that I’m quite frequently asked the question by someone who has recently joined Stitch. They might have been a member for a few weeks, and it’s only just starting to dawn on them that Stitch is much broader than their initial expectations. Broader, and richer too. But at the same time more difficult to pin down and categorize.
- Is Stitch a dating site?
- Is it a social network?
- Is it something online or in the real world?
- Is it for singles only, or is it for everyone?
We recently put together a video which helps answer all these questions, as well as why we created Stitch in the first place:
Some people might not want to listen to me drone on in a video, however, so I’ve also written this article to help explain what Stitch is, what it’s not, and why we think that something like Stitch is desperately needed by so many people.
Let’s start with what Stitch isn’t.
Stitch is not a “Dating Site”
If you know anything about Stitch, you know the number one reason we exist is to help people over 50 find the companionship they need.
And for a large number of our members, this means finding a romantic companion.
That’s why one of the major features of Stitch is the ability to browse profiles of other members and get matched based on your companionship settings. And it means that some of our members use Stitch to find dates.
Yes, I know at first glance that sounds exactly what a lot of dating sites do.
But that doesn’t mean we’re a “Dating Site”.
Any company which adopts the title “Dating Site” is making it clear that the process of “Dating” – and all the challenges and emotional baggage that comes with it – is the essence of the experience, both in terms of how it works and what its users’ goals are. And that includes the many sites which are good for nothing more than a one-night-stand.
That’s not Stitch.
For a start, our Profile browsing feature caters to all types of companionship, from friendship right through to romance. Very importantly, that means catering to people who are somewhere in the middle of that spectrum themselves … not necessarily ready to launch into a full-blooded romantic relationship, but open to the idea of finding one if they start with companionship first and let things grow from there.
But more fundamentally, the entire Stitch philosophy is different from anything found on any typical “Dating Site”.
The online dating industry has been around for close to 20 years, and in that time has got very good at creating an experience designed to get the most money out of its customers as quickly as possible, before they get dissatisfied and decide to leave. To do so, dating sites play all sorts of games with their customers, including showing fake profiles, creating accounts without permission, and making it very difficult to cancel your account once you have joined.
That’s not Stitch.
With Stitch we’re trying to build something that our members want to stay a part of even after they’ve found the companionship they’re looking for. We want Stitchers to stay proud members of the community for many years. We know that companionship comes in many varieties, and is something that we never cease needing as we age.
So no, while some members use the Stitch site to find romance, Stitch definitely isn’t a “Dating Site”.
Stitch Isn’t a Social Network
Stitch is clearly social. And a part of Stitch is definitely “online”. So why isn’t it a social network?
In today’s internet world, the term “social network” is applied to sites which map out people’s existing real-world connections.
Facebook, for example, maps who you are connected to socially.
LinkedIn maps who you are connected to professionally.
Investors like these businesses because they offer an opportunity to use the information they can learn from “the network” – what you say to your friends on Facebook, what posts you like, what brands you follow – to make money. By mapping the billions of connections between people and mining that information for all it’s worth, they can turn your time and attention into huge amounts of revenue, whether you like it or not.
That’s not Stitch, either.
Stitch doesn’t know anything about our members’ real-world connections. We can’t map who your friends are, because we don’t know who they are. You don’t come to Stitch to tell us about your existing connections; you come to Stitch to make new ones.
So no, Stitch isn’t a social network.
So what is Stitch?
Stitch is a Community
This is so important that I’m going to say it again: Stitch is a COMMUNITY.
The idea of a community probably seems like an old-fashioned idea these days, in a world that seems increasingly fragmented, individualistic and selfish. But that’s precisely why we think the very concept is more important now than it ever has been.
I said earlier that Stitch is driven by the mission of helping people over 50 find the companionship they need.
While that’s true, it’s only part of the story. “Finding companionship” just describes the destination, not the journey. There are many paths to any destination; with Stitch the journey takes most of our members through the Stitch community.
What does that mean?
It means that Stitch is something that our members join, rather than a service that they use. This may sound like a marketing slogan, but it accurately describes the enormous difference between what Stitch is and pretty much any online service I can think of.
You don’t USE Stitch. You JOIN.
I am an extreme optimist, and like most optimists I am a big believer in the potential most people have to do good. The way that most people, if you give them the right opportunity, enjoy doing things that make the world a better place.
That’s the thinking at the heart of the Stitch community.
The best parts of Stitch come from the amazing contributions of our members, many of whom take great delight in the idea of improving the lives of others and volunteer their own time to do so.
That’s why the community component of Stitch is so broad, in order to give members a wide range of ways to connect with other people around shared interests and natural interaction, in addition to just browsing profiles.
That includes the amazing number of events and activities that members are constantly organizing around the world, all designed to help create social connections for their fellow members.
Or the many travel experiences that our members organize (did you know about the recent Stitch trip to Las Vegas?) as a way to meet & experience new things without having to do so alone.
Or the way our members use the chat rooms & discussion forums to encourage and help their fellow members where they need it, whether that’s sharing their experiences of getting over losing a loved one, or advice on how to manage the often lonely journey to find companionship.
Stitch is far from perfect, and we’ve got a long way to go until it truly becomes what we believe it can be. But it’s the ongoing input and encouragement from our members that helps us keep working to get there.
Our terrific Community Champion Vivien summed up the Stitch community spirit recently in a comment about a New Members evening she has organised for members in Sydney. Some of the new members were joking about being nervous about being “newbies” and standing in a corner without anyone to talk to.
Vivien simply responded with this:
There will be no one on their own or feeling left out. Stitch is a community where we all welcome and care for each other. That’s the difference! Stitch is what we make it and a good evening amongst new friends is guaranteed. I hope you will have such a good time you will want to make this a regular event!
I couldn’t put it better myself.
Between the members of the Stitch product team and our growing group of volunteers and champions like Vivien, we think we’ve created something really special. A place where everyone is welcomed, where most people go out of their way to be kind and compassionate, and help others.
To me, that sounds very much like a community.
It’s a community filled with people who are all looking for some form of companionship, whether that’s romance, friendship, or something in between.
And because it’s built on real interactions between real people, in an environment where positive behaviors are celebrated and everybody is treated like a human being rather than just an online profile, we think we’re giving them the best possible chance to find it.
Why don’t you join us and find out for yourself?