Who needs friends when you can trick people into thinking you have a thriving social life with a Facebook profile full of well-paid strangers?
This seems to be the idea behind a new service out of Japan (obviously) called Real Appeal, which lets you “rent” friends for your social media pictures.
We wish we were making this up.
Real Appeal allows clients to choose “friends” from a catalog to be featured in their Facebook or Instagram pics. Users can sort “friends” by gender or other aesthetic preferences at a cost of about 8,000 yen per person (or roughly $71 for two hours.)
The catch (other than the fact that you’re hiring fake friends) is that you also have to pay for each person’s travel costs, so the price could end up being a lot higher.
A translated testimonial on the website seems to boast about employing 10 fake friends for a birthday party in a Tokyo hotel.
“After lightly drinking with a beautiful bar in the night view, I got a lot of boasted photographs,” wrote the anonymous user.
While Real Appeal seems to encourage users to buy into the idea that they can improve their social rankings with pretty pictures on Facebook, numerous studies have drawn the link between heavy social media use and mental health problems.
One study in particular, conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, found that active social media users were three times as likely as less active users to feel depressed.
“It may be that people who already are depressed are turning to social media to fill a void,” said lead author Lui yi Lin of the findings.
What better way to address that depression than to pay a bunch of people a whole lot of money to pretend to like you?