The profitable business of solitude in the United States: It is already possible to buy friends and hugs

Specialists have determined that feeling alone can be as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Felipe Carrasco
August 28, 2019

Experts have pointed out that many citizens in the United States suffer an 'epidemic of loneliness'.

In the United States it is not uncommon for some entrepreneurs to have started to develop businesses that tend to solve problems that have to do with filling the spaces of solitude produced by the overwhelming modern life. While some have installed chairs in corners of San Francisco to talk with strangers, others have implemented a support service to city walks for small sums of money and, even, the so-called hug parties are already being drawn, in which people pay 20 dollars for touching each other without sexual intentions.

According to the newspaper El País de España, what is called a “loneliness epidemic” is developing in the United States, a condition that is as much or more harmful than obesity and can even have malignant reach for health as those that produce Smoke 15 cigarettes daily. The statistics are decisive: a survey developed by Cigna and Ipsos determined that more than half of adults believe that nobody knows them fully and 46% admit to feeling alone sometimes or always.

In the United States, the 'Hugs Party' has been created where people pay for physical contact, not of a sexual nature.

Loneliness market

The medical company CareMore Health has for some years developed health plans designed for older adults and people with limited resources, in which they treat loneliness as a health condition, which can be diagnosed, prevented and treated. What the so-called 'Togetherness' program does is call them weekly by phone, visit them at home and enroll them in community spaces.

Since 2009 there is a venture called "Rent a Friend" which offers the possibility of going for a walk with more than 600,000 "rental friends". Each user cancels between 10 and 50 dollars per hour to meet in a public place with a 'friend' and walk with him or her.

To protect the security, the cell phone must be at hand and indicate the whereabouts of where an acquaintance will be, as well as the planned time of return. Scott Rosenbaum, an entrepreneur in charge, was inspired by this idea based on a Japanese experience where people paid for a stranger to accompany them to a funeral or even a family dinner.

In U.S.A. “Rent a Friend” works similar to the Tinder social network, where people who don't know each other are looking for and can schedule an outing together, but physical contact is strictly prohibited. Things of modernity.