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I recently read a couple of stories in the news that I am convinced are clear signs that the Apocalypse is upon us. The first story was about a honeymoon resort on the coast of Japan that has suffered a serious loss of business because Japanese newlyweds are choosing to go outside the country more and more for their honeymoons. The owners of the resort decided that it was necessary to be innovative and think of some way to make up the loss. Their solution is, frankly, rather terrifying to me. They started a campaign to make their resort the destination for guys who want to get away to a romantic spot with their virtual girlfriends. Seriously. There is some video game in Japan where you pick the perfect virtual girlfriend from an assortment of looks and personality types, and interact with her to gain “good boyfriend” points. Showing up with your laptop or hand held game system and your virtual sweetheart at this resort evidently gains you epic points and makes your fake love object really happy. At this point in the news article I could feel a major headache coming on. The writer went on to explain how this game works. If you say or do nice virtual things for your girlfriend she is happy and tells you how wonderful you are. If you work too much or neglect to check in with her she whines and complains and tells you what a rotter you are. This is, supposedly, designed to make it a lot like real life, which says something about reality. The resort has all sorts of activities you can do with your little Anime love bunny, walking on the beach, concerts, candlelit dinners, all the usual romantic hooha, and you can buy virtual gifts for her through the resort gift shops that are worth lots of points in the game. It is insane, and tragically, extremely popular. The average age of the man vacationing with his non-girl is between 19 and 35. They are executives and lawyers and professional guys making plenty of money because the resort is definitely pricey. One man they interviewed said that he wanted to go on vacation but he didn't want to go alone so he brought along his virtual sweetheart for company. I kid you not. Apparently, he not only has no girlfriend, he also lacks friends or family of any kind who might want to go on a trip somewhere. I can't even begin to imagine who these guys are or what their gig is, and I don't think I want to know, but I have some very disturbing suspicions. Farther in the article they showed pictures of the various virtual girlfriends. So help me, there was not a one of them that was drawn to look over 15 years old. One of them was even wearing a little sailor suit school uniform. They all had ridiculously pointy chins and those huge, round eyes that are typical of Anime but completely unseen in Japanese people. They all remind me of those frightening, big eyed children painted on black velvet that were around when I was a kid. Totally freaky. By the time I finished the article I was debating whether to take an aspirin or just throw up for an hour or two.
The accompanying article was even more horrifying. There is a business in Japan that recently started up that is evidently gaining huge popularity. Within 6 months of opening their doors they had more orders than they could handle in a year. They make a very exclusive, very, very expensive item – robot girlfriends. So help me. If you can manage the enormous fee, these guys will make you a robot woman to your specifications, including hair color, color of eyes, height, weight, and measurements. If you have the money you can even have her made to resemble your dream girl. The guy they interviewed in the article had one made to look just like his ex-girlfriend who had just dumped him, undoubtedly for some far less creepy guy. The robot will be programmed to talk with you about your interests, tell you what a mind-blowing hunk you are, and how much she adores only you. The article didn't elaborate on what else she might do for her owner, but it doesn't take a wild leap of imagination to figure it out. No matter how you cut it, it's psycho freak show material. They showed these robots sitting on a couch dressed in silly lingerie with totally vapid expressions on their plastic faces. The company representative went on and on about how lifelike they were and how they were made of some material that is soft and warm and feels just like flesh. There are Stephen King stories less creepy than this article. Between the two stories I had an overwhelming desire to go take a scalding hot shower and scour myself with Comet.
I told my 15 year old son about the two articles his expression of disgust was priceless. He told me that we might all get lucky and the electronic cuddle bunnies would suddenly short out during a loving embrace and seriously electrocute their owners. Let's hope so, a good zap from a cattle prod might be just what they need to jolt them out of their twisted dream world. They at least should realize that being dumped by your robot girlfriend could be something of a shock.
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