Speed dating for the mobile set

I’m officially old. I was suspicious before, but today, I’m sure. I was originally planning to write about how liberated I’ve felt since forgetting my cell phone at a friend’s house party Saturday night. But that will have to wait, because while I’ve been busy feeling footloose and fancy free without my celly, it seems other people, according the Wall Street Journal, are using theirs to get instant dates.

“Earlier this week, Jeff Blum was out buying a sandwich when his mind wandered toward his social life,” Jessica E. Vascellaro writes in “Finding a Date — On the Spot: Internet Matchmakers Migrate to Cellphones, Promising More-Immediate Results.” “So he got out his cellphone and sent a text message with his work ZIP Code to MeetMoi, a new mobile dating service. Within minutes, his phone received the profile of a woman who worked nearby, and the two began exchanging messages about where they worked, their professions — and meeting up for a drink. ‘I liked the fact that we were talking right then and not waiting for emails to go back and forth,’ says Mr. Blum, who is 24 years old. ‘It all happened right away.'”

And later on: “While consumers who would rather flirt from afar are skittish, the new features are starting to gain steam among a new generation of mobile daters who want to do everything on the go. The services are already driving strong growth for the mobile dating market — and helping to entice consumers to sign up for the mobile data plans that are necessary to browse the Web from their phones. An average of 3.6 million U.S. cellphone users accessed a dating service from their mobile phone in March, according to Seattle-based M:Metrics, a mobile research firm, up from 2.8 million in March 2006.”

Can I just say it? O-M-G. The two “real-time” mobile daters quoted are 24 and 20, a preliminary indication that this is a Gen Y thing. And while I guess it’s true that many of us are looking for “dates” on the go — chalk it up to our hectic work schedules, city hopping, and whatnot — I find myself more than a little disturbed at the idea of texting your ZIP code to a service, receiving potential matches in the same location, and getting hooked up right away. I can already see the reality show. Blind Date meets Amazing Race. Never mind the perils of drunk texting.

I could go on and on, but I’m probably too hysterical already and I imagine you guys have a lot more to say about this. There’s a good chance I’m just being a prude — New England upbringing and all — but you tell me. Are my fellow late-twentysomethings similarly creeped out? And are you early-20s folks more open — and so pressed for time that mobile dating is a must? Or is this all the rage and just the natural progression of the dating game? (In which case, in the words of Ricky Bobby, “Help me, Tom Cruise!”)

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