Too much a recluse? Rental relationships to the rescue

Japan's Rent-a-Family Industry

At a time and age when human beings are increasingly perceived to be lesser and lesser willing of being social animals, it’s in fact a clash of ironies at play. Of course as modernity- read commercialistion, has taken over and emotions have ceased to matter over time, what we expect and indeed get to see are a whole generation of almost robots going about their daily business sans the spirit of nurturing the quintessential human essence that makes them an intuitive, perceptive, intelligent species in the first place.

It is therefore a paradox to ponder over that the same humans who are increasingly shunning social interactions and preferring to live their lives on social media- connected yet alienated- have to devise means to cope with their self imposed exclusion by resorting to means that ain’t digital but rather rooted in the same warm comfort of real human connection that they had so easily let go at almost the same time. Perplexing it is indeed then that real relationships are sought out in almost the same frequency in which they are shunned and abhorred, albeit in only some places of the whole wide world.

Do we call it an oxymoron or a happy metanoia therefore that people are seeking to ‘revive’ relationships but indeed not without a catch. Fake relationships are sought out with urgency to fill in voids but the underlying emotions are so surprisingly genuine that we are left wondering what it is that has us letting go so conveniently of those bonds that we have been granted yet covet ones that emerge as impostures- deriving on money and dwelling on gains to deliver the same sense of accompaniment we so gloriously had broken out of.

It might be the stark realisation, it might be the attitude of taking things too much for granted when we can have them readily but most often and most prominently it is the social stature that seeks to hold the stake. If it indeed is all make and believe, all show and pretense, then why do we still say that the emotions out of which this need for human company emerges is something very genuine?

To have a wider perspective of why things are happening the way they are, why we let go off all we are bestowed with only to revert to those very things again, it’s essential to understand from where and why this very human need stemmed and continues to stem from. In fact, it is the fate of the times that every need- human or otherwise, needs to be commercialised and so has this particular desire been exploited and employed for gainful purposes, serving all while hopefully demeaning none.

This urge to convert every need and want into a business has manifested also in this very essential human facet, as family rental services that, in spite the tremendous scorn of how detachment is a very modern phenomenon, is not so much a modern occurrence. First embarking on the public mainstream in the country of Japan sometime in the 1990s, family rental services are thriving businesses in the country today but also sparsely encountered in different parts of the globe.

Source: YouTube

However it still is Japan that rules the roost when it comes to living up to the distinction of relying the most on paid relatives to ward off loneliness and also to live up to their social status. It shouldn’t be even at the least surprising that it still is an Asian country like Japan, not withstanding the fact that Asian countries are looked up to for being more protective of their traditions and more steeped in the essence of thriving as human beings, which is at the crux of this very renting and perplexing business. Japan has always been at cross roads when it has come to striking a balance between human yearnings and their fulfillment- the country has been gripped by a loneliness epidemic so intense that it has resorted to finding solace in specifically designed robots and virtual assistants to pull people out of what is very much and very alarming a disaster.

It’s only natural that the very idea and sound of renting a family will sound whimsical and ridiculous for people who either have the comfort of their familial ties to seek warmth in or the work obsessed, priorities- sorted generation of the times who yearn for more and more of their quality alone time and space. But for people who actively resort to all of such rentings and payments there is no battling eyelids when making any deal. Because for them the nativity lies in warding off their loneliness that creeps up in the dead of the night when the world does not bear enough excitement to keep off the demons at bay for any longer. Or the despair of social exclusion that is a far more rampant feature in Japan is equally responsible for people resorting to services as these which are indeed potential life saviors.

In Japan therefore you don’t need to have a real family to go out in public with your parents or siblings, neither will a lack of friends and relatives prevent you from holding an exclusive grand wedding. You will have everyone on hire- be it parents or relatives, siblings or friends, even husbands and wives and children and grand children! Even outside the purview of relations and the ambit of names, people wait to be hired either as professional tear wipers or mourners, wedding guests, brides and grooms, employers or clients, or to step into whatever role you deem them to fit suit. And what’s more there are even entire fake weddings staged with as much involvement as real ones even as posing friends and guests witness you take oath and seal it with a kiss.

There’s fake wives to keep company for those who don’t have a real one, there’s entire families you can call your own if you have money by your side, there’s friends consoling you in your sorrow and lauding you in your laurels- you don’t ever need to go off company in a country that also ironically resides in desolation, depression and loneliness.

But the ‘privilege’ is not reserved exclusively for Japan either. Other Asian countries like China and Korea have similar arrangements, however the focus there is more on renting boyfriends and girlfriends that serve their social purpose rather than catering to something more alarmingly intense. Japan still remains the undisputed master of the same- indeed the country has forever been celebrated for its advances in technology and its discipline as well as its success as a nation but there still lurk matters that remain outside the pursuits that development seeks to address. Whether it is the failure of humanity as a whole or the success of coming up with daunting responses to each of the crisis that awaits it is a matter that needs analysis.

Many a times rented relations start building up on the real emotions that take root, sometimes so diffidently that fake girlfriends might propose marriage to the men or parents refusing to let go of their children- whether you bask in the glory of these made up relationships not coming a cropper or rue of times that have come, it’s definitely all like you choose to take it. Perhaps in coming up with a seemingly successful response to such shortcomings that can very well be interpreted as a failure we indeed are living the oxymoron of the times!