Lebanon Reporter

Columns

May 27, 2013

An icy relationship

According to the Associated Press, the biggest issue men have when hooking up with women in Iceland is not that the ladies are frigid. The men can be a little frosty themselves — but temperature is relative. The problem is that the person they meet at the Moose Antler Pub could actually be a relative.  

Here’s why: Iceland is the home of only about 320,000 people with a lineage that has been documented over the past 1,000 years. Generally, people don’t move away from Iceland. (Why would they? And give up the best reindeer barbeque in the world?) And not a lot of people summer in Iceland, largely because summer lasts about four hours. As a result, swinging singles often end up together not realizing that some of their ancestors were once actually swinging from the same family tree. Most Icelanders hail from a group of ninth-century Viking settlers whose descendants are still on the island, except those who went to Hollywood to make Capital One commercials.  

Things had gotten so bad recently that wedding planners and family reunion organizers were competing for the same guests. Web dating services in Iceland were trying hard to match people who engage in sports, love hunting, enjoy moonlight walks, and whenever possible, have different great-grandparents.

Recently, software engineers produced a smartphone that features a “bump” function. Potential lovers tap phones together to see how closely they are related. If it’s too close a match, an “incest alarm” will sound. In Iceland there are only two hours of darkness each day from May through August, so if you enjoy things that go bump in the night, there are times you haven’t got much time to finish your drink.

So far the incest app is drawing rave reviews, with a 4.5 out of 5 rating on the Google Play store. This puts it a little behind the video game Grand Theft Auto, although stealing a car and kissing your cousin both carry similar jail terms. One user who commented on the creator’s website regretted that it wasn’t released a little earlier: “If I had this app last year,” he wrote, “I probably wouldn’t have gone home with a relative.” The operative word is “probably,” because pickins for eligible women are slim in Reykjavik and my guess is that if this gal shared a love of ice fishing and miniature golf, well the heck with her DNA.

Creators of the website have been unhappy with the publicity. They claim that the main intention of the application is actually to give data about the rich genealogical history of the country and also to provide information to customers about relatives’ birthdays and anniversaries. But news of an application alerting you that it is Uncle Olafur’s 50th just doesn’t have the same chance of going viral as one that tells you who to shack up with. One of the developers of the app, Arnar Freyr Adalsteinsson, says he seldom even uses the bumping feature.  “I just use common sense,” says Arnar. “Even if the girl is hot, if her name is Gloria Freyr Adalsteinsson, I am going to be a little wary.

The manufacturer notes that the application is not for iPhones; it’s only for Androids. I’m no expert on human sexuality, but if you’re an android, it’s probably safe to go home with anybody you want.

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