ALREADY successful in America, Canada and Japan (where renting a “friend” is a commonplace at weddings, funerals and other family occasions), Rent a Friend (rentafriend.com) has just opened in the UK. But will it be as successful over there? Oh, I think it’ll definitely catch on in England. Somewhere where people are easily conned out of their cash.
Somewhere where people will happily queue around the block to get into an American Diner and pay £14 for a burger and chips because of just one restaurant critic’s review. Somewhere where the presenters of theBBC’s The Real Hustle have conned masses of shoppers into paying £20 for designer face cream when it’s repackaged Lidl originals and £10 for Morrison’s sausages tarted up as organic.
A colleague of mine who plays football once bragged that he had over 3,000 friends! The rest of his team then pointed out that he did, in fact, have just five, all of whom were present and the people who sign up as his friends on Facebook (or Twitter or whatever the hell it is) are not friends. They don’t go to the pub with him. They don’t help him move house. And they certainly don’t let him sleep on the couch whenever his girlfriend kicks him out. In fact, they don’t engage in any form of social interaction. Good grief, how long before the word “friend” has as much meaning as a speech by Sarah Palin or a promise of confidentiality by Lord Mandelson or charity donation by Cherie Blair?
To take the trend (if it is a trend) to its logical conclusion, I can foresee a future where someone who is so socially disconnected and unsuccessful in relationships that they need rentafriends could rent a whole new life package. Complete with the full check list of all the prerequisite relationships for a “successful” life: witty friends, trophy wife, pretty children, helpful colleagues – all at £40 per hour. Though, at that hourly rate, they’d have to be pretty rich – or pretty stupid.
But if people continue to run around like demented whippets on crack with those little earphones permanently attached to the sides of their heads listening to junk at deafening volumes and then stare blankly into so-called “social” applications running on their laptops/ mobiles, then yes, loneliness will become the norm.
A survey I read a few years ago in the free London newspaper, Metro, claimed that 8 out of 10 people would like it if someone started a conversation with them on the tube/ bus. Trouble is, it’s only people whom you’d normally run a mile from that ever do start talking to you on the tube/ bus …
What a rude, insular, ignorant lot we’ve become!
Breaking Views By Nora Johnson
Nora Johnson´s novel, The De Clerambault Code (www.nora-johnson.com) available at Amazon. Profits to Cudeca