When is a girlfriend not a girlfriend? When she is actually a conglomeration of countless freelancers that exist, hive-like, to draw out the banal narration of a day’s worth of your texts. Ditto for boyfriend in this brave new world of ours, and it’s surprisingly easy to tapdance between purported genders when smalltalk is the order of the day.
What the hell am I talking about? The fact that I’m standing in as someone’s Canadian Girlfriend for the low, low price of a nickle. I am a transparent partner, bringing love, companionship and credibility to faux romances through crowdsourced texting conversations.
It’s gonna take a lot of sweet nothings to afford this goddamn coffee.
The internet has allowed us to live and love in ever-more-complex ways, from shelling out hard-earned money for fuckable feet sex toys…
A vagina AND a butt in the severed ankles! It’s 2016, baby!
…to courting individuals on super-niche dating sites catering to clowns, farmers and even fellow gluten-free dieters. But until recently, these all required either a physical connection or corresponding at least partially on someone else’s whims. Then someone had the bright idea of combining the conversational equivalent of a sex doll with the 4G coverage of Verizon and…voila…my part-time gig was born.
Not only does the website offer a Mad Libs-style (shoutout to 90s kids) fill-in-the-blanks relationship origin story, it provides this weirdly poignant canvas for a chorus of total strangers, all pretending to be your girlfriend or boyfriend, to wear like a coat as you project needs, desires and inadequacies onto them. Some users clearly use the algorithm suggestions to call up ho-hum backstories of running into one another at a party, or a coffeehouse, but some spin elaborate tales, dotted liberally with their personal preferences.
Just Text “SoulM8” to WISHUWERE
The saddest are the chaste flirtations with the (theoretical) members of the “same sex.” I am just as happy to be their interested how was your day, dear? styled text-lover as I would be for the “opposite sex” role, but some are clearly – and heart-breakingly – acting out a love they likely can’t explore beyond a smartphone. I’m willing to bet that closeted gays and bisexuals dominate the client roster here, as personal experience has always shown those to be the elaborate backstories that come with actual first and last names for my “character” to use, likely drawn from the actual object of their affections. Additionally, fetish-oriented tales come up often, from extremely specific impossibly-large-breasted clown porn to overbearing bosses that need to teach their client/employee a particularly sexy lesson.
I feel like this is a highway-wide stripe of grey area. Am I encouraging unhealthy behavior by “becoming” these named backstories that could be based on real people? Am I preventing someone from becoming their true selves by offering a same-sex “easy out” for their needs? Am I stunting someone’s emotional growth by being so agreeable and kind…because I’m paid to act that way? I couldn’t say. I don’t make much from working on this crowdsourced, texting expression of “fake” love in 2016, but I continue to do it for the right to peek in at the weird world of the heart-driven, tech-wired unconscious.
Could YOU be a “transparent partner”? Why or Why Not? Comment below!