RentAFriend provides artificial friendships
Published: Sunday, January 23, 2011
Updated: Sunday, January 23, 2011 15:01
How many friends do you have? Is the number that comes to your mind the one that is on your Facebook page?
How many individuals immediately come to mind when you have good news to share and how many of those friends would you wish happy birthday to if you weren't electronically reminded?
For those who are lacking in the friend department, I found out in the celebrity scandal magazine In Touch Weekly, that you can rent a friend at the appropriately named website RentAFriend.com.
It's not an escort service; it's purely platonic profiles of friendly faces, doing their best to sound as if they could be the best friend that you never had for, on average, $25 an hour.
As I flipped through the pages of the magazine, pondering the odd concept of the website I started to think of its implications and what such a site meant about the state of human affairs.
A foreign friend recently told me that Americans aren't very friendly. After I finished being offended I tended to agree with him.
I am a very friendly American. This was why I was initially annoyed, but then ironically, this is what proved his point for me.
I stick out like a sore thumb because of this trait and seeing that it is truly out of the ordinary, my motives are often scrutinized.
I did attempt to throw in the friendly towel a semester or two ago, after one particularly humiliating hair that broke this friendly camel's back, but it was impossible, like telling yourself to blink less throughout the day or to stick to your New Year's resolution.
I just find that, in general, I really like people and consider them all my friends, with each beautifully unique face that moves and contorts along with ever-changing emotions, and all the clever things they have to say. Like Professor Amir Behzadan's admittedly rehearsed joke that he links to the befitting chemical formula and the boyish grin that ensues after I solely laugh.
"That was funny right?" he turns to me and asks, knowing he will receive my approval.
"Yes, that was very funny," I reassuringly reply, an exchange which then liberates the rest of the class just enough for them to chuckle.
It seems to me to be a very sad state of affairs when one has to pay people to have friendly interactions like I have with my professor.
This has to be a repercussion of having a population of unfriendly people; and a repercussion of me finding out about RentAFriend.com is that now every time I see two friends I am going to stare at them uncontrollably while I attempt to determine which one is being paid.
I can, however, see how it could fly in Europe when one wants a personal tour guide and perhaps in America if one is so socially awkward (most likely from relying too heavily on texts and e-mails — interacting with people face-to-face became much too spontaneous and therefore unbearable) that they need to be retrained by a professional "friend."
I'm not sure what's more pathetic: the fact that we have gotten so lost in our development that we have to use our advances to create something that's nothing more than an illusion of what we had without it, the innocent act of making a friend, or the fact that I was reading a celebrity gossip magazine that I actually purchased.