Social media certainly evolves in very interesting and unexpected ways. In the early days, social media involved people posting personal ads on dating sites. In those days, it was a natural evolution of the dating scene from the pages of the magazines onto the web. Those people were interested in finding the elusive romantic of their dreams or just a quicky, either way it was bound to the same societal norms that were already established by the personal ads. The whole interaction was hugely anonymous.
Then came in the first true pioneer of the social media age, MySpace, for those who remember the early days it was pleasantly amusing and awe inspiring to find your favorite stars and celebrities online, friend them and chat to them personally. MySpace created an incentive to shed your nickname and be yourself online for others to find you. Then came Facebook which pushed this idea further and aimed at creating smaller and smaller group of interaction in which you are mainly staying in touch with your own circle of friends and rarely venturing beyond it.
This evolution of moving into more personal and more private interaction would have realistically ceased at the level of friends and family, but what about those who don’t have their friends and family immediately available to them? What about those who want to spend time and hang out with their friends rather than just stay in touch. That’s the gap that the rent-a-friend service fills.
So How does it work?
Rent a friend is just like what the name implies, it is a service that enables you rent friends for every purpose that you would need a friend for. You log in to the website rentafriend.com and you enter your zip code and see the profiles of people who are available in the vicinity of that area, and based on what you want to do you register and contact those people to see if they are interested in hanging out.
To register as a potential rent-a-friend is for free, but to contact friends you would need to be a paid member. It costs $25 a month or $70 a year to be able to contact people on the website, as well as the hourly charge that is negotiated with the friend of your choice that ranges between $0-$50/ hour.
Now, reading this far there are at least two emotions that this idea elicits in you:
1) It is way too creepy, or
2) It is just a cover for people who are escorts.
I’ll get to the first concern later on, but when it comes to escorting or being a dating site the service has a strict policy of making sure that the relationships that it facilitates are platonic only.
So who might benefit from such a service?
Traveling business men and women who are interested in some local sight seeing. They are mostly traveling on their own and need a companion to show them the hot local joints, and allow them to have a good time in their spare time.
Stay-at-home mom’s who want a shopping partner. Maybe no one is free or willing to go shopping with them, and perhaps they want a different opinion and viewpoint than their crowd to provide some critique and advice.
High school students going to their prom. Worried about showing up to your prom night without a date? Why not rent one, and go have a blast on the night of your life with someone who wants to be with you?
Need a wingman or a wingwoman? Some people find social interaction doesn’t come as easily to them as it does to others and need their “friends” to soften the mood first and introduce them to other people. Rent-a-friend would be a good place to pick up such outgoing and social people.
Are you new to a city and want to hang out and meet people? Get a local to help you out and introduce you around.
These are all just ideas, but will they actually work in such an innocent way? What do you think?