Earlier this year, we brought up the concept of Invisible Girlfriend, a phone app that pretends to be dating you for whatever reason that leads you to believe you require pretense. (Invisible Boyfriend is also available, should you prefer.) One thing we didn’t get into was that either this was some seriously upgraded artificial intelligence, or some poor soul has to sit there and write all those texts to you.
With each job, I would see the person’s first name, last initial and hometown; “how we met”; and my own assigned name, age, and which of six personality types they’d given their Invisible. Now I’m adventurous and fun. Now I’m cheerful and outgoing.
There were 3 major rules:
- I was always supposed to be upbeat in my messages.
- I’m not supposed to break character.
- No sexting. (Photos are blocked on the service.)
I’d get the story of how we met and the last 10 messages we’d exchanged. This setup is designed to create the illusion of continuity; ideally, an Invisible Boyfriend would seem like a steady, stable presence in a user’s life, instead of what it really is: a rotating cast of men and women. And it is both: a woman who works for the service previously told me she prefers playing the role of boyfriend because she knows what a woman wants to hear.
And what price love? Surprisingly little:
If I spent an hour answering texts, and took the full five minutes to write each one, I’d be making 60 cents an hour, far below the minimum wage. This is legal because all the workers on the platform are classified as independent contractors rather than employees. “Contributors have a tremendous amount of control over their decisions — for example, when to perform a task, when to complete it, and even if they want to complete it at all,” said Jeffrey H. Newhouse, an employment lawyer at Hirschler Fleischer, by email. “That means the contributor isn’t an employee and, as a result, employee protections like the minimum wage don’t apply.”
Okay, maybe not so surprising.
(Via Hit Coffee.)