Lonely In a Crowd

BBC Online: http://www.bbc.com/news/av/magazine-40973529/lele-tao-the-online-goddess-who-earns-450k-a-year/

I look to Asia to see our future, and it is of isolation in the midst of increasing population. It is also about attempts to relieve loneliness with Internet connections.

This latest series of the BBC documents pretty girls who stream live Internet programs throughout the day singing, dancing and interacting with their fans, mostly guys. (The reference above is only the first episode of about 10 minutes. It will lead you on to more episodes that you can watch or skip.) Sex is not mentioned or overtly on any part of these young-girl websites, but it obviously is at the core.

Lele Tao

They interview one fan, a guy who looks to be in his 20s, who estimates he has contributed $15,000 to his relationship with Lele Tao, a popular Chinese girl, 24, who runs one of these websites. He claims it is like contributing money to a family member. He says he finds pleasure in giving, and he is not expecting any favors in return. He is not bothered by the lack of sex and even seems to prefer it that way. He says he has a real girlfriend, but she is not interviewed, so we do not know what she thinks of all this.

Tao projects the image of a nonthreatening. cutesy, immature young girl who still plays with stuffed animals.  (What the Japanese call “kawaii.”) And her eyes do not look Asian?  That is no accident.

The fan cannot be alone in his obsession since Tao is only one of many, and she makes $450,000 per year from contributions to her website. She operates through an agent who supplies her website and a tiny studio. In exchange, he gets about 50% of that $450,000. The agent also seems to be in his 20s and remarkably resembles her interviewed fan.

In succeeding episodes, the agent is demanding a new contract with an increased cut of the income. When she balks, he briefly cuts off her website. We easily recognize the domineering relationship of a pimp to his girl.

Tao and her fan agree to meet on Shanghai’s Bund, although the BBC assures us such meetings are extremely rare (meaning this meeting only happened because of the BBC TV cameras). After the meeting, they both go back to their usual lives, and we assume their arms-length relationship also remains unchanged.

I have published other postings on Asian attempts to use the Internet as a substitute for a real relationship with a real person:

https://rwalck.wordpress.com/2013/06/22/hikikomori/

https://rwalck.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/hikikomori-and-otaku-nerds/

https://rwalck.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/kawaii-hikikomori-and-the-declining-population-of-japan/ 

And one more relevant posting: https://rwalck.wordpress.com/2015/02/02/rat-overpopulation-and-people/

It does work for some, however pitiful they seem.  I think I see a trend developing, and not just in Asia. I kid you not.

RWalck@Verizon.net

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About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
This entry was posted in China, Popular culture and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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