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Soon, friendship can be a career option

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It shows how disconnected we are with our families and so called real friends! We struggle to make friends! No body would have ever imagined that we are going to pay for these services!
[h=1]SOON, FRIENDSHIP CAN BE A CAREER OPTION With loneliness on the rise, people are willing to pay for companionship[/h]
  • The Times of India (Mumbai edition)
  • 25 Sep 2016

A wedding in Japan. The best man is Ryuichi Ichinokawa, and it’s time for his speech. He gets up and goes in front of the assembled guests, and gives a short but moving speech about the bride and the bridegroom. Not bad for a person who had met the couple just a few hours before.

Ichinokawa is part of an increasingly common deception in Japan. He was a hired friend, part of a growing service sector that rents out fake spouses, best men, relatives, colleagues, boyfriends and girlfriends. One day, he’s the best man. On another, he’s the devoted uncle of a 12-year-old boy and his younger sister at a school sports day. “He is unlikely to ever again set eyes on his ‘nephew’ and ‘niece’, or his ‘sister’ – a divorcee whose children were being bullied at school about their absent father,” writes Justin McCurry in The Guardian.
It sounds horrifying – the fact that human disconnectedness has grown so much that these basic activities need to be bought and paid for. Is this what the will drive the new world economy? In a world where more and more people interact through screens small and large, where typed messages becomes easier than meeting and conversing with a person of flesh and blood,this is the future.
It’s not so bad, you may think. Japan is an outlier in so many ways. Today, people lavish so much attention on their children. Friendships are still impor- tant. Families get together for those big events – births, marriages and deaths – the way that they always have. But there is a demand for these services, even in India. Which means that there are enough people who will pay for a few hours of companionship.
“(In the West)If you’ve got the money, you can now Rent-a-Friend, pay for cuddles, or dine with strangers. Our reaction to these services tends to vary, in keeping with how intimate they are – cuddle parties seem weirder than dinner parties – but the basic trade-off of cash for connection is the same in each case. And is there really anything wrong with these services? We applaud befriending and visiting schemes for the elderly but judge a 30-something who might pay for a walk. All of us, though, need social connection. If we support programmes that ensure the elderly have company, why don’t we do the same for the young?,” asks Emily White in The Guardian.
The UK’s Mental Health Foundation’s Lonely Society report found that 18- to 34-year-olds were more likely to suffer from loneliness than those over 55, and it suggested that loneliness might be having a cohort effect, with younger generations feeling progressively more isolated, writes White. And as our children and their children grow more and more incapable of making friends of their own, paying for connection may seem as ordinary as paying for therapy. “If it’s the market that’s offering us the chance to walk and talk with someone who seems like a friend, we’ll be heading towards it, not turning away,” writes White.

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