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São Paulo ESPM 2014.2 Questão: 45 Inglês Interpretação de Texto 




Paying someone to be your pal may be the ultimate contradiction in terms Need someone to go to the movies with? Desperate to try that hip new restaurant but don’t want to go alone? Need someone to gossip with during your next binge-watching weekend on Netflix? Good news: There is someone who would love to do all those things with you... for a price. In the past few years, online “friend rental” services have been growing in popularity, offering users a chance to pay for (nonsexual) companionship. The “friends” determine their rates, either by specific activities or for predetermined lengths of time, and users have the opportunity to choose the person (or price range) best suited to their needs. RentAFriend, the most popular such site, claims to have much more than 500,000 friends available worldwide for everything from museum visits to skydiving. But in order to get in touch with them (and start the hondeling), users need to cough up a $24.95/month membership fee. Helen White, a Boston-based friend, says she has been paid $20 an hour just for her company. “We went to a concert together,” she says of one date. “All in all, I made $60, plus he bought my drinks. It was actually very natural; there wasn’t any awkwardness, like you might expect. We had a great conversation.” David Bakke, an Atlanta-based friend, has had similar experiences. “The first time I had dinner with a woman who was in town for business, and the second, I went to a basketball game with a guy who I think had a friend cancel on him at the last minute.” Both times Bakke, a freelance writer, waived his fee since the clients paid for the night’s entertainment. Yet some mental-health professionals question the underlying premise: the idea that friendship is something that should, or even can, be bought. Dr. Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist, says that the very existence of RentAFriend is “an incredibly sad commentary on the state of human relationships.” “Real friendship comes from shared experiences and values, and in true friendships, friends are equal,” says Lieberman. “Renting friendship is by its very nature untrustworthy, unequal and temporary. Once you stop paying, that person will no longer be there for you; that’s the antithesis of friendship, if you ask me.”

www.newsweek.com / March 4, 2014

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