Loneliness is a breeding ground for business in the United States

August 28, 2019

The large number of Americans who feel alone has been the breeding ground for the United States to develop many business initiatives that offer a way out of solitude.

Among these initiatives is Rent a Friend, a company founded in 2009 in the US, which has more than 600,000 “rental friends” in several countries around the world.

Users, who pay between $10 and $50 per hour, must also follow a protocol: meet in a public place, have their cell phone at hand, tell an acquaintance where they will be and what time they plan to return, among others.

There is also CareMore Health, a company that has been offering a program called Togetherness in health plans for older adults and people with limited resources for two years, which treats loneliness as a health condition that can be diagnosed, prevented and treated.

In practice it consists of weekly phone calls, visits to the patient's home, personal stimulation and community programs.

Likewise, in Los Angeles is The People Walker application, in which “walkers” charge between $7 and $21 for accompanying someone else to walk.

As published by the Spanish newspaper El País, Adam Paulman, 65, attended a hug party in San Diego, in which about thirty people paid $20 to touch each other without sexual intentions.

"While these types of initiatives proliferate, the US health authorities warn that there is an" epidemic of loneliness ", a condition more harmful than obesity and as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day," says the newspaper El País.

Chuck McCarthy, creator of The People Walker in 2016, explains that his service of charging for walking accompanied is a response to companies that invest billions of dollars "so that people feel alone in front of a screen."

"If someone is walking, is not in social networks, is not watching streaming services, is not playing video games and is not buying online," he says.

All "walkers" go through a process of applying for and verifying criminal records. In addition, the location is tracked during the user's journey.

Entrepreneur Scott Rosenbaum, of the Rent a Friend initiative, was inspired by a Japanese application, where people paid for a stranger to accompany them to a funeral or a family dinner after a divorce. However, in the US it works like a Tinder of friends.

Rosenbaum explains that users talk to several candidates and when they fit in with one, they hire their service, although “family activities” appear among the options offered by the website.

Loneliness crisis

According to surveys published by the Spanish newspaper El País, in the United States there is a crisis of loneliness. 45% of adults feel lonely. They consider that nobody knows them at all. They think they have no friends and their communication with people face to face is non-existent. Harder for "centennials" who are between 18 and 24 years old. They ensure that it is a consequence of the hyperconnectivity of the new times and social networks. The so-called centennial generation (18 to 22 years old), digital natives, feels more alone. One conclusion would be to hold hyperconnectivity accountable.