Many have felt that texting and social networking on the Internet would leave young adults without the social skills to meet and socialize with others face to face. Without being pushed into regular social situations that they have with attending school would they feel comfortable or even compelled to look for and find friends? One company has based their entire business on the fact they will need help and is now offering friends for rent.
Rent-A Friend (RAD) is launching this week in the UK having already successfully launched in the US and Canada. You will be able to hire someone to keep you company. They stress this is a simply platonic relationship renting and that they are not an escort service.
The website explains: “You can rent a local friend to hang out with, go to a movie or restaurant with, someone to go with you to a party or event, someone to teach you a new skill or hobby, or someone to show you around an unfamiliar town.”
It also mentions that you can rent someone to work out with in the gym, a date for the prom, or to help you meet others by serving as your wingman or wingwoman at a club.
Subscribers pay a monthly access fee to view pictures and profiles of possible “rent-a-friends”. There is then a negotiated hourly rate for the time period spent together. On the US website the hourly rate begins at $10.
In Japan there are similar agencies already. The Rent-A-Friend founder Scott Rosenbaum, who lives in New Jersey, said he started his business because he saw a need for a site offering just friendship within the massive numbers of dating sites. Whether this will catch on and what type of feelings will result when someone realizes they only have friends that will spend time with them for payment is left to wonder. Perhaps though the practice of meeting someone new when there is no pressure involved will help to establish confidence in meeting others that don’t require payment to spend time with you on a weekend evening.