Marrying a cousin was once a sure way for the upper classes to continue their family lines. These days, though, shenanigans between cousins are a little less common, and some consider even remote familial connections between lovers a no-no. A recent app developed in Iceland, which helps people to tell if they are distant cousins before they hook up, has been a raging success.
Iceland’s population of approximately 320 000 people is small enough to warrant concern about accidentally shacking up with your cousin after a night on the town. The app that is helping new lovers allay fears of awkward family reunions makes use of an extensive online database which traces Icelandic ancestry through generations. Owners of the app who wish to see if they are related can ‘bump’ their android devices together (with the app running) to find out. The app sounds an ‘alarm’ if users are too (familiarly) close for comfort!
Some might wonder what all the fuss is about. After all, Charles Darwin’s marriage to his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, didn’t get in the way of some solid scientific research. Even Albert Einstein kept it in the family when he married his second wife Elsa, who was his first cousin on his mother’s side and his second cousin on his father’s. In Iceland’s own history, the man who led the Icelandic independence movement in the 19th century, Jón Sigurðsson, was married to his own first cousin. Yet it would seem times have changed.
One article on the new app quotes an Icelandic graphic designer who lives in Reykjavik, who says that many people have heard accounts of ‘going to a family event and running into a girl you hooked up with some time ago’. Perhaps in this instance, the embarrassment would only be partially due to realizing your ex-fling is family. After all, few people like to run into someone they’ve slept with casually, whether a relative or not.
The days of incestuous marriage seem well and truly over. Thanks to the designers of ‘IslendingaApp’ – ‘Sad Engineer Studios’ – Icelandic people can indulge in one night stands without subsequent surprises at family weddings or funerals.
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