It's one thing to hire an Instagram Husband to snap influencer-style photos. But in Japan, one service is taking the pressures of social media to the extreme.
Family Romance's "Real Appeal" lets people hire fake friends, who will come take photos with them. Snap away and post to Facebook, Instagram, and elsewhere to show off your vibrant social life online! Or at least create a false scene to induce FOMO among your followers.
For $8,000 yen, or roughly $70, for two hours, you can hire one person or a group to join you for photos. Want to make your ex jealous or have more "friends" attend your wedding? Family Romance is here for you. A free consultation lets you choose the event you want to manufacture and the types of people you want to attend (i.e. gender, appearance, and age).
If this all sounds vaguely familiar to you, that's because it's kind of like an escort service (à la Debra Messing hiring Dermot Mulroney in The Wedding Date), but one specifically geared toward people who want to show off on social media and get more likes. Is it weird? Absolutely. Unexpected? Not so much. We spend more and more of our time online and with many events constructed with Instagram-worthy photo opps in mind, it makes sense that one company would try to capitalize on those moments by offering you pretty friends.
But Real Appeal only perpetuates the dangers of spending so much of our lives online. That is, we lose touch with the importance of real interactions and become lonelier. The solution to more likes isn't fake friends — it's fostering meaningful, in-person relationships.