Feelings For Hire: Should You Outsource Your Emotional Life To A Website?

Posted: Dec 23 2013, 8:16am CST | by

Feelings For Hire: Should You Outsource Your Emotional Life To A Website?
Photo Credit: Forbes

Her, Spike Jonze’s acclaimed new picture about a man who falls for an intelligent computer operating system voiced by Scarlett Johansson is set in the near future, but the days of outsourcing your emotional needs to the internet are already here and I’m not talking about eHarmony. 

There’s Spill, which allows high school, college and grad students to anonymously share their interpersonal problems and get real-time moral support from peer responders. MyFriendJill goes a step further and claims to be bridging the gap between friends and family and therapists for lonely twentysomething women. Clients can book appointments with “professional listeners” who will cheerfully endure your prattling about annoying coworkers or bad first dates without interjecting their own concerns or trying to change the subject as IRL acquaintances might. If your cyber life leaves you longing for more human contact, Portland’s Samantha Hess received nation-wide attention last month when news of her cuddling business hit the mainstream press. Hess charges $60/hr for those craving platonic snuggle sessions and has more customers than she can handle (with care).

Research shows that canny emotional outsourcing service providers are filling an legitimate need in our uber-connected times. A study from the University of Michigan found that the more time college-age adults spend on Facebook, the less moment-to-moment happiness and life satisfaction they report. And social loneliness, which has doubled since the 80s, has been reported to be a bigger health risk than obesity and on par with smoking. Is it any wonder that we’re turning to online solutions to soothe the anxiety that being online breeds in us?

Millennials, of course, are a prime market for emotional outsourcing. Not only do they spend more than the equivalent of a full day (25 hours to be precise) online each week, their reliance on technology to mediate personal relationships has already become trend piece fodder, with no less than The New York Times declaring that Gen Y has killed courtship with their prioritizing of tech proficiency over interpersonal communication. In light of this, a site like HeTexted, which allows members to upload their text conversations for dissecting from an anonymous peanut gallery makes perfect sense.

In the age of FoMo, maybe it’s old-fashioned human connection that we’re missing most. Good thing there’s an app (or 10) for that.

Learn more about my work. Contact me.

Source: Forbes

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