For those hoping to impress others online, there are rent-a-friend services in Japan aimed specifically at social media users.
Earlier this year, Jiji reported on these services, which are seeing a growing number of rent-a-friend requests for social media. This is still uncommon, but recently, the service has been introduced on mainstream Japanese television.
“An increasing number of people don’t want their parents or friends to think they have few friends,” Yuichi Ishii, who runs such a service, told Jiji.
According to Maki Abe, who manages a similar service, last year her company fielded about twenty requests for phoney social media photos. Her company, for example, staged a girls-only party for one 20-something year-old client.
However, this company, called Family Romance, says it gets about 20 to 30 requests a month. Besides promoting this service as a way to show you have an active social life, Family Romance says it can be used to “triumph” over an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend.
(Family Romance also rents out wedding guests, seminar attendees, and even fake parents for estranged clients who need someone to meet their sweethearts.)
How much does the SNS service cost? Family Romance charges 8,000 yen ($74) for one rent-a-friend for two hours. So, four friends brings the total to 32,000 yen ($293).
You can apparently pick the age, the gender, and even what the fake friends wear, free of charge.
Here, a birthday party with fake friends is being staged. The rental pals then change their clothes and the location, so it can look like the photos were taken on a different day.
The client in the middle is surrounded by fake friends. This photo can then be shared online.
“The number of people who want to look better than necessary is growing,” Abe told Jiji. “To be honest, I am hoping the number of such requests will fall. I have a feeling that (younger people) feel that they can’t reveal their vulnerable side.”
As evident on Matome Naver, the reaction among many Japanese Twitter users is that this service is dark and depressing.
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