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Need a Friend? Rent One Online 134

Posted by samzenpus
from the you-get-what-you-pay-for dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "Housewives, college students, and others are working for a website that charges users an hourly rate for their companionship. No, it's not an escort service — at least it's not one 'with benefits.' It's a site called rentafriend.com, that's trying to carve out a niche in the 'everything's available online' business world. The seven-month-old site, patterned after hugely successful sites in Asia, has nearly 2,000 members who pay either a monthly or yearly fee to check out the pictures and profiles of more than 160,000 potential pals." I thought Craigslist had already cornered the market on renting a friend for an hour or two.
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Need a Friend? Rent One Online

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  • Another one ? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by daveime (1253762) on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:21AM (#32716224)

    Or you could simply add a bunch of random people of Facebook and see how many accept your friend request.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:24AM (#32716262)

    And my mom was paying them.

  • Since Slashdotters have no friends, and we get close to 5 million visitors monthly around here, I can tell they'll be cashing in on some money.

    16/f/Cali for me please?

  • Is it just me, or is this creepy beyond belief?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Is it just me, or is this creepy beyond belief?

      It's not just you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      I don't know, kind of creapy, but cheaper than a therapist (I'm assuming didn't look at pricing). And probably better for your social life than complaining to your actual friends all the time. I wonder how many people just use this thing as a sounding board to talk out their problems. I don't think anybody really needs to pay for friends on the internet. There's tons of forums and chat channels on just about any topic you can think of. However, most of these places, as in real life, people will start
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fuseboy (414663)

        This sounds weird, but it's not that surprising - the pinnacle of the service economy is selling specialized conversation, isn't it? :-)

        What I'm really curious is what sort of policies and worker-support practices will emerge in this industry. Without something, it's going to get messy, and quickly.

        A therapist who is just listening to you vent is providing a bare minimum sort of service; the real goods happen when they start to challenge you (however subtly) to be more aware of the patterns you're enacting

      • by Syberz (1170343)

        Ranting aside, I can see some potential here. If you're new in town you can rent a friend to show you around. At 20-30$/hour it's cheaper than a tour guide.

    • Re:Ewww. (Score:5, Funny)

      by vlm (69642) on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:50AM (#32716562)

      Creepy is what the 4chan crowd are going to do to these poor people, and then post screen caps for LOLs. I hope they're well paid for what they're probably about to go thru.

  • ....but are 'friends' electric?

  • Counselling (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:37AM (#32716410)

    This service isn't anything to do with being "friends". It's essentially a counselling service where anyone can volunteer to be a paid listener, and people who need someone to either talk to or simply to be there so they can overcome their social issues of going somewhere alone can pay them.

    I actually think it's a good idea *if* the people on both sides of the transaction are being honest about what they want out of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reziac (43301) *

      Yes, exactly, and per the application, it also includes helper, gofer, and all around dogsbody -- pretty much anything that requires a warm body. I can see this as very useful for short-term employment for specialties of every sort, sometimes building to long-term employment. Frex, one "friend" could be the shopper for a dozen housebound people, make some money at it, and make the housebounds' lives easier (and more interesting, as they could see new faces whenever they wished).

  • by qoncept (599709) on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:40AM (#32716456) Homepage
    I'm no social butterfly, but when I'm alone out of town I have no problem going to a bar and finding random people to talk to. It's not hard, people. Beer helps.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Then you wake up in a bathtub full of ice noticing a stitch where the kidney should be.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:53AM (#32716596)

      I'm no social butterfly, but when I'm alone out of town I have no problem going to a bar and finding random people to talk to. It's not hard, people. Beer helps.

      Congratulations.
      You can turn in your geek card at the door.

      BTW - if you haven't figured it out yet, not everyone feels comfortable talking to random strangers, and some of us are unable to pour enough booze into our system to get rid of our inhibitions before we pass out.

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)

        Please stop perpetuating negative stereotypes. Guess what? *shock* *horror* There are actual people out there who do NOT fit the self-perpetuating "aspie" stereotype and who heartily enjoy the company of others, INCLUDING the company of strangers. Some of them even read Slashdot!

        For the crime of being an unsmiling prick nerd, your ability to revoke others' geek cards has been revoked. Your loss of privileges will be updated the next time your geek card syncs with the cloud.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          who heartily enjoy the company of others, INCLUDING the company of strangers. Some of them even read Slashdot!

          I actually like them Strange.... I see out the wierdows to talk to.

          One of my favorite friends is a Thumbless short bald guy that is a Neo-anarchist anti Corperation Multiple PHD holding out of work professor that loves a good debate/argument about nearly anything. I can blow 12 hours talking to him and drinking scotch. although by the time we finish a 1/2 a bottle the conversation get's really w

        • by Abstrackt (609015)

          BTW - if you haven't figured it out yet, not everyone feels comfortable talking to random strangers, and some of us are unable to pour enough booze into our system to get rid of our inhibitions before we pass out.

          Please stop perpetuating negative stereotypes. Guess what? *shock* *horror* There are actual people out there who do NOT fit the self-perpetuating "aspie" stereotype and who heartily enjoy the company of others, INCLUDING the company of strangers. Some of them even read Slashdot!

          For the crime of being an unsmiling prick nerd, your ability to revoke others' geek cards has been revoked. Your loss of privileges will be updated the next time your geek card syncs with the cloud.

          What AC said doesn't sound like a stereotype to me. Key phrases to support my hypothesis include "not everyone" and "some of us", indicating a subset of a larger group. It's true that not every geek's an introvert but I believe the ACs point was that not everyone is an extrovert either. Ironically, I think you come across as far more of a prick than the AC you're calling out.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        not everyone feels comfortable talking to random strangers

        But if you pay that random stranger, that makes the situation much better!

    • by darjen (879890)

      this may or may not be a surprise, but some people don't like going to bars.

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        Only because I'm cheap. Only the truely insane is happy paying the prices bars charge. Plus you dont got here for conversation... you cant hear the person setting next to you over the grunge punk band that has only a drummer and a bass guitar.

        • by BobMcD (601576)

          Plus you dont got here for conversation...

          No, you go there because other people seeking hookups are going there as well. This is also why you're paying more for their drinks - because your contemporaries are doing likewise, and you don't want to stand out in a negative way.

    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      It's not hard, people. Beer helps.

      Depends on the person. I like to drink my fair share, but I typically drink more around my existing friends. Around strangers, I actually get MORE reserved as I drink more. Deep down I keep remembering that "I'm drunk, and drunk people do stupid things.", and it turns into a weird compulsion to do and say as little as possible when drunk so as no appear . . . drunk.

      Weird I know, but different people act differently when drunk. Some people get funny, some people get angry, some grow bold, some become qui

    • You are paying for those friends in the surcharge added to the drinks. Paying directly for the friend based on background, interests, and looks is much more reliable than the random selection you will find in a bar. Of course too much control over the process also has its disadvantages.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      My mother doesn't permit me to drink beer because it's against her freaking religion, and I have to do whatever my mother says (even though I'm in my late 30's! Please kill me.) It doesn't matter anyway because bars are "bad" and people who go to bars are "evil, dirty people".

      Long story short, I have no way to meet people because all the things people do to meet people are somehow "bad" by her standards, so I never learned how.

      I'm going to go back to my corner and wait for death to come.

      • by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@anaLISPsaz ... m minus language> on Monday June 28, 2010 @01:05PM (#32718318)

        My mother doesn't permit me to drink beer because it's against her freaking religion, and I have to do whatever my mother says (even though I'm in my late 30's! Please kill me.)

        I originally moderated you up, but I think it's important to say: Move out! Get a job (I know, not always easy, especially now), and move out on your own. Your personal wellbeing and self esteem will likely be much improved. You don't need to go out and live a life of debauchery, but you can sit there a few times a year and say, "you know, I think I'll have beer|scotch|brownies".

        The exception would be if you're living the life of Bertie Wooster, and have to behave in order to get a massive inheritance. In that case... who knows. =) I'm genuinely curious why you feel you have to follow your mother's restrictive lifestyle. Part of being a mature adult is respecting that not everyone feels the same way you do.

        On the flip side, if you've never had booze or been to a bar, you may find that you don't enjoy them when you DO try it. There's no harm in that -- but then you'll avoid them by choice, not because you feel you are kept from them by someone else.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Late Adopter (1492849)
      Depends on the town. I'm in Washington, DC and I despise the bar scene. But every now and then I travel to Chicago and it is a genuine joy to open conversations with random strangers (not for hookups). Maybe the people are friendly there, or the music's quieter, or I'm more bashful about making a bad impression where I live. But my friends agree, DC bars are for nights out with large groups, and that's about it.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday June 28, 2010 @10:41AM (#32716462)
    But when you reach a certain age, it becomes harder and harder to meet new friends. I used to have tons of them, but then I moved to a new city and have almost none here. And if you're too old for the clubs, don't have a family, and aren't religious or a sports fan--you're pretty much SOL in many places. I can see where something like this would be appealing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Datamonstar (845886)
      There's always thing like pen & paper gaming or LAN parties ant the like. Us geeks have our get-togethers and meet-n-greets just like everyone else.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by BobMcD (601576)

        There's always thing like pen & paper gaming or LAN parties ant the like. Us geeks have our get-togethers and meet-n-greets just like everyone else.

        You missed the 'of a certain age' part. No one wants to be 'that old dude' on the RPG scene.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Securityemo (1407943)
      If you have actually no interests that can be spun in a social manner, then I think you're either pretty rare or living in the wrong place. My grandpa is a ranking member of the OddFellows, and I think that most of the appeal of the "club" is the ability for older people in your situation to have a social life. Most members seems to be engineers, school teachers, middle-class businessmen, people like that.
      • Right on the Oddfellows home page (http://www.ioof.org) they mention belief in a "Supreme Being" as a tenet, which throws them out as a candidate for the grandparent poster's non-religious example person. Every club I've seen so far that wasn't dedicated to a specific hobby was religious in nature.

        • That's true. On the other hand, that's about as far as it goes. I'm not sure, but the freemasons have the same thing - ranking back to the time where a secret society that didn't openly support the church would risk being abolished. On the third hand, a lodge in the kind of town the grandparent poster seems to live in might have a larger religious constituent, and thus most likely take the "morality from the almighty" tenets as seriously as the organizations moral tenets themselves? (Which they, at least in
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mackil (668039)
      I've found that a great way to plug-in somewhere in a new community is to volunteer. Give blood, give out water at the local fun-run, participate in community events. It's cheaper, works great and its good for the soul.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by jimmydigital (267697)
        Good idea... but I have only so much blood to give... plus.. I'm using most of it. What I could do though is give other people's blood.. that would be much better and would represent my giving nature. Call it the redistribution of blood if you will. This sounds like a great way to meet new and interesting people.. if only for a short time. Luckily other people's blood is a near infinite resource.. what could possibly go wrong.

        You know what they say... it's all parties and lap dances until you ru
    • Do you not have any hobbies?

      I don't live anywhere near any of my highschool or college friends. I don't drink, nor have I ever been one to go out to clubs and bars. I get along with my co-workers but most of them have very little in common with me socially. I do love building and working on my own cars and I found a forum online for people in my area that drive my make and model car. I've made a lot of great friends though this club.

      Similarly I've made a lot of friend by seeking out other local clubs
    • If you have a hobby, there is a group for it.

      Look for one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Gunnut1124 (961311)
      Dude, Meetup.com
      Find something you ARE into and goto the meetups. Atheist? Tons of atheist meetups on there. Star Trek fan? They have monthly viewing parties in my area. Do you like to cook/eat? They have a million dinner clubs... Seriously there is something for everyone.
    • Actually, I find nothing to laugh about there.

      The thing is, it seems to be a common ailment. I see people all the time who are that desperate for social interaction that they'll try to chat up the cashier at the supermarket or the teller at the bank... with a long line forming behind them. Typically old people too. You can see a select few really desperate at it, too.

      What I really don't get is why doesn't someone make a club of sorts for that. There are literally thousands of old people who'd like to talk t

      • Most places have a "senior center"
        • Then I suddenly don't understand the problem any more. In fact I'm thoroughly confused.

          I see people for whom loneliness in the old age is a very serious problem. I see them desperate enough for human interaction to wait in a line for a human teller instead of using the ATM in the hall and then desperately try to chat up the teller. And you can occasionally hear one complain about how lonely he/she is, how everyone abandoned her, daughter doesn't call often enough, nobody else ever wants to talk to him/her,

          • by BobMcD (601576)

            Umm... So why don't these people use them, then? I must be missing something very obvious there.

            You've overlooked the conversational polarity. Everyone in the 'senior center' crowd wants to conduct 'positively charged' conversations. 'My' problems, 'my' grandkids, etc, etc, etc. They're looking for a listener, even if just a polite one, any 'negatively charged' individual will do. Anyway, the positive-positive conversations tend to be non-starters.

          • When your spouse and friends of decades are dead and your children who relied on you for decades are living separate lives I suspect that loneliness is pretty much inescapable. There is a lot of time when you are not working, and physical and financial limitations add to the misery. Senior centers might help for some, but old people are usually bad company--complaining and childishly seeking attention, for example. Live together, then die alone...
      • by Vegeta99 (219501)

        Wait, say what? That's just some people's nature, dude. I was a social services major, and resident director of the apartment complex I lived at. I just like to talk. It brightens both of our days, and oh, she's got my coffee and cigarettes waiting for me in the morning. I have no intentions of being friends with the woman, but shit, I have to see her every day, might as well be friendly.

        • by Moraelin (679338)

          Dude, I'm not talking about a couple of friendly remarks while she scans your goods, or wishing her a nice weekend. I'm talking about for example someone who was holding out a 1 hour queue at the bank (monday and pension day, see) after being basically told goodbye, trying to strike a conversation.

          That's not being friendly, that's being antisocial. There was a long line of us missing work to solve some real problem at the bank, and someone is basically wasting the time of every single person in that line to

          • by Vegeta99 (219501)

            OK, I'll agree with that sentiment. That's just plain annoying, and trust me, I deal with it on a daily basis - that one kid that thinks your just supercalifragilisticexpialidocious cool 'cuz you took his rent check AND told him he had a package at the same time when you really didn't - they drive me nuts.

            But I think it's OK to recognize the "strangers" in your life and be nice to them. That lady at the convenience store that has my coffee and cigs ready for me every morning? I have no clue what her name is

    • by DittoBox (978894)

      Do you have a social hobby? Golfing? Photography? Hiking? Motorsports? Cycling? Maybe you own a type of car that has an owners club (MINI, Volkswagen etc.).

      There's a local group for just about anything.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      You are not trying unless you moved to Salt lake city....

      Into gaming? Find the local gaming shops and ask about tournaments and start playing.

      Into computers? User groups.

      Into RC planes? find that group at hobby shops.

      Etc... If you try you can find like interest people. Join the Rotary club, Masons if you like the illuminati (joking), Toastmasters, etc......

      • Why joking? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:06PM (#32717478)
        We in the Illuminati are actually getting pretty pissed off just meeting the same of crowd of Hidden Masters, Temple Measurers, Rosicrucians, and members of the Tres. If you're into illumination, secret world domination, and communication with superior beings, post your email and we'll get in touch. Provided of course that you can prove you're female, a virgin, aged between 18 and 21, and have no pesky living close relatives. Oh shit did I really write that?
        • by Larryish (1215510)

          No, you didn't write that.

          One of our reptilian overlords channeled his evil scaliness through your keyboard.

          Just ask David Icke. :D

        • by IICV (652597)

          Provided of course that you can prove you're female, a virgin, aged between 18 and 21, fnord and have no pesky living close relatives. fnord Oh shit did I really write that?

          It's okay, I've covered for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      And if you're too old for the clubs, don't have a family, and aren't religious or a sports fan--you're pretty much SOL in many places.

      Well, there's always the local LUG. Might be worth a shot for some people -- at least you've got one interest in common.

      Lots of hobby groups exist and meet regularly. RC Planes, Gaming clubs, S&M enthusiasts... If you've got an interest, I guarantee there's a club for it *somewhere*.

    • by neonKow (1239288)

      You meet people through work, volunteering, hobbies, and through day to day interaction like at the coffee shop where you work freelance too many hours to have time for volunteering, hobbies, clubs, families, religion, or sports.

      Honestly, people are compatible with far more people than they know. If you can't find someone you can get along with and confide in in a new city, you are not doing yourself a favor by pre-selecting who you meet based on interests on an online profile.

    • Right there with you, only it seems all my friends moved out of this town (which all of us moved to). It seems I live in a city of transients, with friends who are transients. Which you expect from the city that I live in and from going to boarding skoool. This is not the best thought out post, no coffee yet.
    • But when you reach a certain age, it becomes harder and harder to meet new friends. I used to have tons of them, but then I moved to a new city and have almost none here. And if you're too old for the clubs, don't have a family, and aren't religious or a sports fan--you're pretty much SOL in many places

      You should go to meetup.com. Seriously, check it out. There's lots of opportunities there to meet new friends.

    • by spinkham (56603)

      PShaw. meetup.com is your friend. If you live in a place of any decent size, there's tons of groups out there for your interests.
      Like bicycling, software development, sushi, model aircraft, computer security, robotics, anime, knitting, etc? There's probably a meetup group in your area. All of those I've looked at or attented in my own town, and there's tons more out there.

      Also, toastmasters and volenteering are always good ways to meet people.

      If you can't find any groups that interest you, why not not le

    • by rleibman (622895)
      Meetup... seriously, there's tons of groups for all kinds of interests.
  • I've often thought a service like this would be great for travelers.

    I'm married and have lots of friends, but many times I've traveled to new places by myself and had no freaking idea what to do or where to eat (and I hate generic chain restaurant food), so it would be worth $30-$40 for someone to show you around for a couple of hours.

  • Who needs a friend for money when you can have a lively conversation on /. for free? It's almost the same thing without possibility of physical contact, and how is that not a plus?

  • by cacba (1831766)
    Do they come with a car and is it cheaper than movers?
  • I'll be someone's friend for money. I'm really interesting and have many divers...why is everyone laughing?
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Probably because you have many divers. How many divers do you need? Where do you keep them? What do you feed them? How do you deal with police nosing around for missing divers?

  • Anyone remember this cartoon show? There was an episode where Buster Bunny was working for Acme Rent-a-Friend. While it was funny, it also made for good social commentary. It seemed to hint that people will go at great lengths to make money, so much so that they will prey on people's basic need for companionship.
  • Or, just pay $30 a year for Xbox Live and talk to all sorts of random people while playing games. Don't like the group you're chatting with? Just leave the game and pick another one...a never-ending supply of disposable friends!

    • Perhaps it's just me, but everytime I've played on XBox online games it's typically a bunch of barely teenage boys that are just obnoxious. They're disposable alright, or am I disposable as they PWN me?

      Never the less, social interaction is very possible on online gaming. I've played a MUD for the last 10 years now that I've made several internet friendships that stemmed from it. It's all about common interests.
  • Turing? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Crashspeeder (1468723)
    Assuming this is strictly online (I can't be bothered with reading TFA) then it sounds like a very clever scam or an awesome Turing competition with unwitting participants.
    • by Maarx (1794262)

      Assuming this is strictly online (I can't be bothered with reading TFA) then it sounds like a very clever scam or an awesome Turing competition with unwitting participants.

      Every now and then I read a /. post that genuinely makes me go "Holy crap, I hadn't even considered that."

      This is one of them. Mod parent up, please.

  • Typical Approach (Score:1, Redundant)

    by interval1066 (668936)
    In a consume-oriented society. Need a friend? Just rent one.
  • by fataugie (89032) on Monday June 28, 2010 @11:28AM (#32717026) Homepage

    Like what..Medical? Long Term Disability?

  • by iamacat (583406) on Monday June 28, 2010 @12:13PM (#32717580)

    Like in the case of the other by-the-hour service, you don't pay people to be friends with you, you pay them to go away. Real friendships are a lot of work that not everyone is willing to invest in every instance. Imagine that you have a family and a busy job, but you are away on a business function for two weeks. Wouldn't you want someone to show you around town without having to talk about work or promising to call later? I know most slashdot readers are not in this position, but wouldn't you want to earn enough pocket money to buy a new laptop while spending time with successful professionals that you seek to emulate?

  • ...the same way Apple abuses "Genius," and that's probably the creepiest thing about the site.

    "People e-mail me all the time about it. Is it legal? Is it really platonic? There's no 100 percent way to be sure, but we have zero tolerance if a friend says they were solicited. There's no second chance," Rosenbaum said.

  • How much do I have to pay these people to lose PvP deathmatches against me?

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