08.27.2019

The problem of loneliness transformed into business

Hugs parties, “tinder” to look for friends, walkers of people: the global epidemic of lack of company generates profitable solutions

BAE Negocios by BAE Business
8/27/19
https://www.baenegocios.com/edicion-impresa/El-problema-de-la-soledad-transformado-en-negocio-20190826-0057.html

Between hyperconnection and isolation, modern life takes place in large cities. Loneliness is a growing contemporary evil, to the point that the creation of a specific Ministry on the subject was set in the United Kingdom. Together with this epidemic, solutions were emerging that became a profitable industry in countries like the United States. This is revealed by a note published in the newspaper El País.

The examples detailed by the Spanish newspaper are eloquent. One summer weekend, Tracy Ruble and 20 other people settled with empty chairs in a corner of a San Francisco street to talk to strangers. Chuck McCarthy offered interviews in Los Angeles about the success of his application The People Walker, in which "walkers" charge between $ 7 and $ 21 for accompanying someone else to walk. Adam Paulman, 65, attended a hug party in San Diego. About thirty people paid $ 20 to touch each other without sexual intentions.

While such 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. The figures prove them right. More than half of the adults in this country consider that nobody really knows them and 46% admit to feeling alone sometimes or always, according to the latest survey by Cigna and Ipsos.

For two years, CareMore Health has offered a program called Togetherness in health plans for the elderly and the poor. In practice, it consists of weekly phone calls, visits to the patient's home, personal encouragement and community programs.

Another of the entrepreneurs who found a solution and a business opportunity is Chuck McCarthy, creator of The People Walker in 2016. His service charges for walking accompanied. All "passers-by" go through a criminal background application and verification process.

One of the best known companies in the field is Rent a friend, who announced his arrival in Argentina a few years ago. It has more than 600,000 "rental friends" in several countries of the world. Users pay between 10 and 50 dollars an hour. In the USA it works like a Tinder of friends. In our country there is "Rent a local friend", more focused on tourists who want company to tour the city.

In 2015, Tracy Ruble founded Sidewalk Talk: next to some friends he sat down in the street in front of empty chairs, deployed so that those who wanted to talk with them would do so. Such was the success that transformed it into an organization, which now works in more than a dozen countries. Innovative ideas for the well-being of many who are transformed into return.