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Need a Friend? Rent One Online

samzenpus posted about 4 years ago | from the you-get-what-you-pay-for dept.

Businesses 134

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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134 comments

Another one ? (3, Insightful)

daveime (1253762) | about 4 years ago | (#32716224)

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

Re:Another one ? (2, Funny)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 years ago | (#32716286)

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

Communist!

Re:Another one ? (3, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#32717152)

That would be via Chat Roulette!

Re:Another one ? (3, Funny)

cjb658 (1235986) | about 4 years ago | (#32718074)

1. Find a picture of a hot chick on the internet and make that your Facebook picture.
2. Send out thousands of friend requests.
3. Profit!

Re:Another one ? (1)

kenj0418 (230916) | about 4 years ago | (#32718296)

I wonder if they will help you move, or give you a ride to the airport. Might be worth it to avoid annoying your actual friends. (Assuming they're cheaper than a cab or movers)

rent boy? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716242)

Still not as popular as rent boy with the religious right. At least maybe I can finally find someone to talk too....

I guess my "friends" weren't lying (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716262)

And my mom was paying them.

Re:I guess my "friends" weren't lying (1)

whitedsepdivine (1491991) | about 4 years ago | (#32716470)

Your mom was paying me also for the benifits part.

Re:I guess my "friends" weren't lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716654)

And you're not paying your spelling teacher enough.

Re:I guess my "friends" weren't lying (1)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | about 4 years ago | (#32717798)

Looks like you might need to pay your grammar teacher a bit more, buddy.

Re:I guess my "friends" weren't lying (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32717336)

Remember Spot? Your first dog. Yeah him. Do you remember how Spot was always so happy to see you? You do? Good.

OK, now think back...

Do you remember how your mom used to tie something around your neck before you went out in the back yard?

That was a pork chop.

Server load (1)

XPeter (1429763) | about 4 years ago | (#32716278)

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?

So how is this different form an escort service? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716298)

Rule 34?

Ewww. (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | about 4 years ago | (#32716312)

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

Re:Ewww. (2, Funny)

mossy the mole (1325127) | about 4 years ago | (#32716334)

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

It's not just you.

Re:Ewww. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716382)

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

It's not just you.

It's just you both...

Re:Ewww. (3, Funny)

Conchobair (1648793) | about 4 years ago | (#32716736)

Those two should be friends.

Re:Ewww. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716944)

Those two should be friends.

With this service, they would've found eachother more easily and could've fud'd together over a coffee and start a bromanche bitching about manthings...

In the end, they would have to admit this was a good idea, while they mandate and hold hands in public in a common hate-protest based on personal combined fear and stare down homophobes who "don't understand".

The single man-tear they shed, holding their manhands, wouldn't be understood by female nor homophobe (or very feminate men). But those, real men, would understand...

Re:Ewww. (2, Interesting)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 4 years ago | (#32716488)

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 to ignore you if you complain too much. But I wonder if having a person who is paid to sit there and listen to your ranting would be helpful to people, and would accomplish a large amount of what therapists are paid to do.

Re:Ewww. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716610)

I wonder how many people just use this thing as a sounding board to talk out their problems.

But I wonder if having a person who is paid to sit there and listen to your ranting would be helpful to people, and would accomplish a large amount of what therapists are paid to do.

You seem to be confused... therapists ALREADY ARE paid to sit there and listen to your ranting.

Re:Ewww. (3, Informative)

Fuseboy (414663) | about 4 years ago | (#32717484)

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 over and over again. Equally importantly are the boundaries that are set - therapists (AAMFT [wikipedia.org] therapists, at any rate) are required to get regular supervision, a sort of meta-therapy.. which is intended as a safeguard in case the therapist gets triggered by the client in some way (e.g. idealizing them, becoming overly invested in their 'progress', irritated by the way the client reminds them of themselves ten years ago or their alcoholic aunt, etc.)

Painful as it is, one of the ways friends help one another is by not putting up with certain behavior - he talks shit all the time, he's always stoned, or whatever it is. Will rent-a-friends have the option of ditching a client? If not, will they just become anxious witnesses, providing support to people who would otherwise realize how intolerable they've become?

Re:Ewww. (1)

Syberz (1170343) | about 4 years ago | (#32717648)

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. (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Ewww. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716772)

Shoe on head, NAOW!

Hangs head in shame.

Re:Ewww. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32719432)

Numfar! Do the dance of shame.

Yes, I see potential for this service.

Re:Ewww. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718726)

It's not hard for you, sure.

To start a conversation with a stranger, you need to find a subject that the both of you are able and willing to talk about. To do that, you need to gather the available evidence about what this stranger might be familiar with. You can probably talk about the place you are standing in, whether that's a bar or a city or a country. You can probably talk about the food you are eating, the drinks you are imbibing, and that sports game going that the TVs are showing.

If you can get this stranger interested in those things, you can exchange comments about them for a while. During that time, it is likely that this stranger will drop some other hints about things they are interested in. Noticing when this has happened is something of a trick. If they've complained about the traffic they had to drive through to get here, does that mean they find traffic interesting, or that they enjoy complaining, or that they drive around this town a lot (so they would know that this traffic is unusual) and might want to talk about the places they drive through? There isn't any very reliable way to tell, so you just guess, and talk for a while on that assumption.

Keep doing that long enough and you're bound to find something they're genuinely interested in eventually. But for some people, none of the steps in this procedure are easy. All of them require some thought and planning; even if it's just ten seconds of thought, that's often enough time for the conversation to go somewhere else entirely.

If you find this process easy, it's probably because you've practiced it all your life, and are therefore skilled at it. Many people aren't. Possibly because of some learning disability, possibly because they've spent most of their lives in social situations where the topic of conversation was mediated somehow (clubs and student groups), or possibly because they've been treated badly in social situations and not given much incentive to learn how to use them.

So it makes perfect sense to me that some people would want to hire someone to talk to them. It's much easier to learn how to manage social conversations if you can ask people to slow down, and if you're free to stop the conversation and analyze what has happened in it. Doing that with a random stranger in a bar will likely result in embarassment and confusion. Doing it with someone you've paid to help you is just another part of that business transaction.

how is this not tagged slashvertisement yet? (1)

Kral_Blbec (1201285) | about 4 years ago | (#32716348)

n/m

You know I hate to ask..... (1)

ciderVisor (1318765) | about 4 years ago | (#32716384)

....but are 'friends' electric?

Re:You know I hate to ask..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716414)

My wife has an electric 'friend'.......so I think the answer to your question is.....yes?

Only mine's broke down... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716426)

And now I've no-one to love =(

I'm supposed to put a title here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716394)

So in a way you can rent a "Friend with Benefit", in the proper sense of the term.

Counselling (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#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:Counselling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718266)

agreed. if the "rented" friend has his/her own issues similar to those that the rentee has (and is trying to overcome or mitigate), such a rental may only exacerbate the problem. telling upfront what you want and what you'd like to avoid would probably minimize the risks.

Re:Counselling (2, Insightful)

Reziac (43301) | about 4 years ago | (#32719000)

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).

This is just beyond lame. (2, Insightful)

qoncept (599709) | about 4 years ago | (#32716456)

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:This is just beyond lame. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716594)

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

Re:This is just beyond lame. (2, Funny)

Snarf You (1285360) | about 4 years ago | (#32717462)

Beer helps with that too.

Re:This is just beyond lame. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#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:This is just beyond lame. (1, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 4 years ago | (#32716948)

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.

Re:This is just beyond lame. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#32717212)

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 wierd.

Re:This is just beyond lame. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 4 years ago | (#32717008)

not everyone feels comfortable talking to random strangers

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

Re:This is just beyond lame. (1)

darjen (879890) | about 4 years ago | (#32716850)

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

Re:This is just beyond lame. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#32717256)

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.

Re:This is just beyond lame. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#32717394)

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 quieter.

Re:This is just beyond lame. (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 4 years ago | (#32717468)

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.

Not allowed to drink beer (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32718146)

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.

Re:Not allowed to drink beer (3, Insightful)

gknoy (899301) | about 4 years ago | (#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.

People laugh at stuff like this (3, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#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:People laugh at stuff like this (2, Insightful)

Datamonstar (845886) | about 4 years ago | (#32716484)

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:People laugh at stuff like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716786)

How do you meet people to go to a LAN party? Semi-serious question!

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (2, Interesting)

Securityemo (1407943) | about 4 years ago | (#32716608)

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.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

Digital Pizza (855175) | about 4 years ago | (#32717666)

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.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

Securityemo (1407943) | about 4 years ago | (#32717882)

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 the lodge here, they take quite seriously; i know about at least one member that was kicked out for dishonest business practices.)

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (2, Insightful)

mackil (668039) | about 4 years ago | (#32716658)

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:People laugh at stuff like this (2, Funny)

jimmydigital (267697) | about 4 years ago | (#32716826)

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 run out of other people's money.. err.. blood.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 4 years ago | (#32716674)

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 for the other hobbies of mine.

My grandmother moved out of her home state to be closer to some family that had moved away, she joined a local singing group and made lots of friends though that.

It's easy to find like minded individual in your area.. you just have to look in the right places.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716678)

Shouldn't everyone on /. be able to get into Mensa? I thought everyone who posted on here was a genius.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

mrlsd (194099) | about 4 years ago | (#32718534)

Well, I can't really recommend Mensa. I found that most of the members weren't particularly interesting after they started repeating their party pieces. They liked playing games, both on and off paper, whereas I prefer to do something more useful with my life (plus I'm not very good at the games they played ;-)

Their attitude towards intelligence was disappointing. They appeared to believe that a high IQ is both necessary and sufficient to do well, in much the same way that an immature teenager thinks he knows how to drive because he has a car with a big engine.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 years ago | (#32716700)

If you have a hobby, there is a group for it.

Look for one.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716704)

Sir, your ideas intrigue me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (3, Informative)

Gunnut1124 (961311) | about 4 years ago | (#32716852)

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.

Quite the opposite, actually (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#32717084)

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 to someone, in any given town. Can't someone, maybe even one of them, organize something? Doesn't even have to involve any fancy or expensive stuff. I'm thinking even something like "let's all go to the river and chat".

Re:Quite the opposite, actually (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | about 4 years ago | (#32717382)

Most places have a "senior center"

Then I seriously don't get the problem (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#32718186)

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, etc.

Now you're telling me there _are_ senior centers for just that.

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

Re:Quite the opposite, actually (1)

Vegeta99 (219501) | about 4 years ago | (#32719300)

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.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

DittoBox (978894) | about 4 years ago | (#32717120)

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.

Damn straight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32717126)

I read the suggestions of others here and all I can say is "Do you think we haven't tried and failed at these methods?" Either you're not as old as we are, or you're a damn-sight more social than you realize.

There's a reason why males unmarried by 45 tend to die alone. They have better chances at the 6 pick lotto.

Huh? (2, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#32718616)

I read the suggestions of others here and all I can say is "Do you think we haven't tried and failed at these methods?" Either you're not as old as we are, or you're a damn-sight more social than you realize.

There's a reason why males unmarried by 45 tend to die alone. They have better chances at the 6 pick lotto.

Dude, I'm an aspie. I have about as much savvy and finesse for social occasions as my cat has for scuba diving.

But what's being proposed here doesn't boil down to "go pick up a super-model in a bar", nor even something as radical as finding someone you can live with all day long for a marriage, but basically to "there must be other people at your age and with the same interests." Since you tried and failed, exactly what _was_ the problem? No, seriously, I'm curious.

As I've been saying before, there are literally thousands of retired seniors in any town worth that name. Some hundreds to thousands of them profess being terminally lonely and badly in need to talk to someone. The OP even basically proposes to pay for someone to talk to.

Exactly what _is_ the great impediment that prevents all this pool of people who badly want to talk to someone, from talking to each other?

I mean, really. You want to talk to someone. They want to talk to someone. Some even desperately. I'm obviously missing something, because to me it sounds like the problem is its own solution. Surely if you're that badly in need of social interaction, you can tolerate another willing interlocutor for an hour or two even if their personality isn't exactly bride/groom class. What _is_ preventing it?

And just to add... (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about 4 years ago | (#32718814)

I also wanted to add that there are sites and MMOs and IRC channels for just about any interest group imaginable, if that's more tolerable for you than in-person dealing with another lonely senior or your set of interests is particularly under-represented in your area. If you can label your hobby or fetish in less than 50 characters, chances are there's at least one IRC channel and one newsgroup/mailing list about it. Or you can organize a casual player guild on the MMO of your choice, or whatever.

So, seriously, if someone is on the internet and capable of posting a complaint about how lonely they are, why wouldn't they be there?

Re:Huh? (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 4 years ago | (#32719288)

It's very difficult in real life to just walk up to someone out of the blue and strike up a conversation without being thought of as some kind of weirdo. Hot women and handsome guys in romantic comedies can get away with that kind of stuff. But try that on most people in RL and they'll think there is something wrong with you.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 years ago | (#32717288)

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? (3, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 4 years ago | (#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?

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (2, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 4 years ago | (#32717494)

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*.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

neonKow (1239288) | about 4 years ago | (#32717554)

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.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

AnAdventurer (1548515) | about 4 years ago | (#32717596)

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.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32717736)

well, have you tried D&D?

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

dollarwizard (1806856) | about 4 years ago | (#32718804)

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.

Re:People laugh at stuff like this (1)

spinkham (56603) | about 4 years ago | (#32719134)

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 learn a new skill on your own or at the local community college, and start your own group? It's easier then you think.

Travel (1)

boristdog (133725) | about 4 years ago | (#32716480)

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.

Re:Travel (2, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | about 4 years ago | (#32716526)

o it would be worth $30-$40 for someone to show you around for a couple of hours.

In vegas, I'm told the cab drivers perform this function. Seriously.

And, on the internet, theres a wiki for everything:

http://wikitravel.org/en/Main_Page [wikitravel.org]

Re:Travel (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 4 years ago | (#32717076)

next time, before you travel. See if there is an episode of Man vs Food for the city you're traveling too and watch that before you leave.

Re:Travel (1)

neonKow (1239288) | about 4 years ago | (#32717578)

Couch surf.

Re:Travel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32717980)

That is what guidebooks are for! Look up the nearest 3 michelin starred restaurant and you're good to go :-)

Couchsurfing ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716604)

From the description given on the page, all the services provided by this website are offered by the couchsurfing community, for free.

who needs a friend (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 4 years ago | (#32716614)

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?

One question. (2, Funny)

cacba (1831766) | about 4 years ago | (#32716630)

Do they come with a car and is it cheaper than movers?

Re:One question. (1)

Harvey Manfrenjenson (1610637) | about 4 years ago | (#32717552)

I know you're kidding-- but I think the answers are "yes" and "quite possibly, but not by much".

From the article, it sounds like many of their American clients are looking for hired help rather than companionship. One guy hired a "friend" to help him rent a car and do online research for him. Another hired a "friend" to visit her mother in a nursing home while she was away. Etc.

If all the clients wanted was someone to hang out with, you wouldn't need a fee-for-service model-- just a matchmaking service to connect them with each other. And we already have plenty of websites like that.

Are they hiring? (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about 4 years ago | (#32716642)

I'll be someone's friend for money. I'm really interesting and have many divers...why is everyone laughing?

Re:Are they hiring? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32716684)

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?

Tiny Toon Adventures (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 4 years ago | (#32716688)

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.

Xbox Live anyone? (1)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 4 years ago | (#32716706)

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!

Turing? (2, Interesting)

Crashspeeder (1468723) | about 4 years ago | (#32716784)

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.

Typical Approach (0, Redundant)

interval1066 (668936) | about 4 years ago | (#32716872)

In a consume-oriented society. Need a friend? Just rent one.

Now in 21 convenient locations! (1)

mattcsn (1592281) | about 4 years ago | (#32716994)

We love you, Dan Kim. [clone-army.org]

Friends with Benefits? (3, Funny)

fataugie (89032) | about 4 years ago | (#32717026)

Like what..Medical? Long Term Disability?

Makes perfect sense if you remember why u pay (2, Insightful)

iamacat (583406) | about 4 years ago | (#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?

They abuse the word "friend"... (1)

neonKow (1239288) | about 4 years ago | (#32717646)

...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.

Looks about this classy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32717838)

From the people who brought you:
http://www.rent-a-negro.com

Actually, the whole setup is same as porn affiliate programs, so I'm guessing that's where it comes from.

Note to mods: Informative, not troll ;-)

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