They say money can’t buy happiness, but it sure can buy empathy in China. Lonely businessmen are actually paying women up to $5 a day, just for a few kind words and a bit of understanding. A similar service is available for women as well.
Many young men and women are making quick money by offering the service through Taobao – China’s leading e-commerce website. They call themselves ‘virtual girlfriends/boyfriends’, and they’re willing to listen to their clients complaining about a tough day at work.
Male clients have a range of virtual girlfriend personalities to choose from, including ‘doll-like girls’, ‘mature women’, and ‘the girl next door’. For women, the choices include ‘men in uniform’, ‘CEO’, ‘handsome men’ and ‘comforting men’.
Once you choose a virtual girlfriend or boyfriend, their services could cost you anywhere between 20 and 30 yuan ($3 to $5), depending on what you want them to do. They could give you wake-up calls in the morning, say good night at bedtime, feign concern at various times during the day, and send encouraging text messages.
Xiaomi, a businesswoman in her early 20s, decided to become a virtual girlfriend to boost the number of visitors to her Taobao store. It isn’t easy an easy job – she needs to keep track of her phone at all times, making sure she calls and replies to her customers on time.
But all the hard work has paid off – her site’s sales have increased, with daily transactions growing from 7 or 8 calls to over 500. She has even hired seven female part-time employees to help her out with the growing demand for mobile girlfriends.