Relationships getting back to olden days thinking

Sort of.

GPS dating apps are taking the hunt for a partner to new levels: local proximity levels of the kind our great-grandparents likely dealt with in their home towns and farm areas. People get getting back to the idea of meeting the one next door, as it were.

Take, for example, the story of Scott Kutcher and Amanda Segal. They started dating in March when, during a Jay-Z concert at Madison Square Garden, Scott pulled out his iPhone, opened an app called Skout and scanned a list of near-by women.

A grid of photos showed women who, at that very moment, were within a certain radius of Scott and his GPS-enabled phone.

And at the top of that list: Amanda, who was at the same show.

“It just so happened she was the closest one and she’s cute,” he said, noting that the app told him she was less than 1,000 feet away.

Scott and Amanda exchanged instant messages through the app. Amanda thought Scott was funny. She also liked the Ninja Turtles hat he wore in his profile picture. So the pair agreed to meet up for coffee after the show, and Amanda brought some of her friends along, just to be safe.

“He could have been a serial killer,” she said. “I lucked out.”

Indeed she did. I’m sure others use this same program (and their kin) to schedule hook ups and booty calls, too. Saves trolling a bar for someone dumb enough to leave with you.

Glad it worked out for the couple, though. The same technique has found a fond following with the gay community, too.

Joel Simkhai, the 33-year-old CEO and founder of that app, said Grindr users typically range from about 20 to 30. Simkhai said he created the app partly because he was having trouble finding men to hook up with and date.

Grindr has made meeting people faster and easier, he said.

“As humans, I think we value proximity. It’s part of who we are. If somebody’s 200 feet away from you, then go meet them, go say hi for five minutes. There’s no need to have e-mails back and forth, SMS’s back and forth,” he said. “The incentive is just to go meet.”

In effect, Grindr also works as a kind of digital “gaydar,” allowing people who are interested in same-sex relationships to identify each other without the awkwardness of having to ask someone if they’re gay or not.

Is this a long lasting trend, or merely a fad? Who knows? If it means people are getting to meet new and interesting people that may be worth getting to know better, so much the better. It saves joining clubs and sitting on the internet hoping some dating site can pair you up without you having to do much more work towards that end. I think I’d be willing to try it, if I were equipped to do so. Why not? If you’re smart, like Amanda was, there’s no reason a first meet won’t be a safe one. Most people are pretty darn decent, actually. It’s just that the stories we hear more about are the serial killers…

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