Longing for that good-morning text? Wishing for flirty texting banter during a long day at work but don’t want the burden of an actual relationship? Worry not – Taobao has lived up to its reputation of offering everything you could ever want (freshly killed mosquitoes, anyone?), and is now providing a virtual girlfriend/boyfriend service, according to Want China Times.
A combination of Her, Siri, and a 3 billion person population, these virtual significant others provide wake-up calls, texting conversation, cutesy online banter – all of the normal online-related interaction expected in a relationship in China. Mostly, the texting is reserved to G-rated chatting about shared interests like TV shows, food, and music.
You can find a total of 4,474 results if you search Taobao for “virtual girlfriend”. Among these, Xiaolujia has become an increasingly popular choice for lonely or curious customers. Run by a 21-year old named Lulu, Xiaolujia employs the services of 80 virtual partners, 40 men and 40 women from the ages of 17-26, whose virtual services cost about 20 RMB a day. Actual phone calls come with an additional fee.
Lulu receives about 30-40 orders per day, mostly from clients who just want someone to talk to, had a recent breakup, or are just plain curious.
Psychologist Paul Yin believes that these interactions are an alternative for men who aren’t confident enough for real relationships. “They can gain confidence and feel loved through this experience and there’s no risk in getting frustrated from setbacks,” he told CNN in an interview. When a Quanqiu Tech survey asked if they have felt lonely in the last month, 89% of single men answered yes, while 79% of single women admitted feeling lonely, and it’s no wonder that the lonely singles of the Middle Kingdom are looking to other outlets for companionship.
CNN reporter Zhang Dayu hired one of the girls for a 24-hour long experiment, and was surprised at how much he enjoyed the experiences. “Finding a virtual lover might work better than boozing all night and drunk dialing your ex-lover at three in the morning,” he said. “For those who want to “get lucky”, I guarantee you’ll have better luck with the first person you dance with at the nearest club.”
So for the shengnan and shengnü out there, if you’re tired of your parents advertising your singleness and just want someone to talk to for a while, this might be a good alternative.
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