A couple of months ago, Laura Harper, a 44-year-old freelance writer and editor from Houston, Texas, got upset while reading a Jezebel story about a service called “Invisible Boyfriend.”
The story described a new service from a St. Louis-based start-up that, for $25 a month, would give single people the appearance of being in a relationship, by sending them texts from a lover “whose name, physical appearance, hobbies, and personality are distinctly curated by you.” Like most of the reporters who signed up for the app, Jezebel writer Ellie Shechert initially assumed her new bae was sending automated replies to her texts, in the manner of Siri. But a few texts in, she realized that “Albert” wasn’t a bot, but a real person, and she decided she wanted to aggravate him into dumping her, sending him texts like, “YOU ARE GARBAGE.” “Albert” responded with flustered yet affectionate texts leading Shechet to describe him as “dumb,” “boring” and a “dullard.”
Harper was offended, because she had been Shechet’s “boyfriend,” at least for part of the conversation. She is one of 600 crowd-sourced workers who play the role of boyfriend (or girlfriend) for the 7,000 significant others that have been created on the Invisible Boyfriend/Invisible Girlfriend platform. “I recognized the texts. I was, like, wait a minute, that’s not how it went down,” said Harper, a widow who prefers playing a boyfriend on the service because she knows what women want to hear. She almost commented on the article to defend “Albert,” but Invisible Boyfriend discourages “breaking character,” so she refrained.
Fusion, on How We _____ Today. (The going rate per message is 5 cents.)
2015 is weird
This is my favorite story of the week.