Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rent-A-Friend


 I just stumbled on a website that made me shake my head in disbelief. RentAFriend is a "social" website (social is in quotation marks for a reason) where people can find other people who are willing to rent themselves out as a friend. According to the website, one can browse potential "friends" for free, but in order to contact these people, registration is required - along with a "small membership fee". The website says the general fee to rent a friend is ten dollars per hour "but almost all of them are willing to negotiate or even waive their fees depending on the activity you are planning with them."

The website emphasizes that "RentAFriend.com is NOT a dating website, and NOT an Escort agency. Services on RentAFriend.com are strictly for FRIENDSHIP purposes only."  I'm sure that there are some folks that go on despite the aforementioned disclaimer, in hopes of finding a "cheap date", but I digress. Assuming that everyone that signs up on this magical friend machine is actually looking for platonic companions to share a movie or a cup of java, and according to the counter on the website that boasted over 417,000 registered members, my calculations say that there are WAY too many people out there who need to get out more, meet people face to face, and learn some social skills.


There are so many things we spend our money on to make our lives easier. We hire people to clean our homes, make our meals, walk our dogs, wash our cars, and cut our grass. These tasks can be justified for the most part. What I can't seem to justify is that true friendship is something that can be sacrificed for nothing more than a body sitting in the next chair? Have we really come to the point that we are either too busy, too lazy, or too crass to find, develop, and maintain meaningful relationships with other humans? 


To me, this isn't about finding friends online. We all have busy schedules. Some of us aren't exposed to as many people as others are. Finding real people to date or friend on the Internet isn't a problem. It is becoming the norm. The problem I see is actually PAYING someone to spend time with you. On the other side of the computer screen, what about the people who are charging for their services as a friend? Are they not exploiting the friendless? Are they earning the hourly fee by pretending to like the restaurant or listening to what you have to say? Isn't this the same as prostitution (sans potential STDs)?


I have a simple solution that may save you ten dollars an hour plus your "small membership fee":
  1. Speak to someone. Say "hi". Smile. Call someone you haven't seen in a while.
  2. Get to know what you have in common with that person.
  3. Listen more than you talk. Only advise when asked. Support them when they need it.
  4. Ask someone to go with you to the movies. Invite someone over to play cards (or whatever).
  5. Don't badger them if they can't at a particular time. Respect their other plans AND privacy.
  6. Don't cancel on them or show up late unless it is an emergency.
  7. If minor things they do annoy you, look over them. YOU have flaws too.
  8. Don't always be the one asking for help. Be available to help them too.
  9. Be ready to give them their space. We all need private time and other friends.
  10. Settle differences quickly. Don't let little things destroy what you have worked on.
Those are my ten easy steps to friendship. As long as I do those steps I will never have to pay someone to grab a beer with me. 


How do you feel about RentAFriend?

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