The Girlfriend Experiences
What I learned from having 23 virtual girlfriends
Here’s a little something the fat cats at Hallmark don’t want you to know: you can experience all the same thrills, chills and spills of a real -life relationship without leaving the comfort of your own home. Using this one weird old trick, you will never have another sad day: search “virtual girlfriend” in the app store, download all relevant search results, and say hello to the the bevy of low-maintenance beauties now living in your phone.
I began looking into this as a self-distraction measure after mounting evidence of our impending collective destruction spiked my desperation levels. I feared the further erosion of my already nearly nonexistent standards would give way to an ‘open season’ of sorts for the small group of local sewer-dwellers I had yet to share romantic history with. I also needed a lot of attention to meet my validation baseline now that everyone else was distracted with dismantling the doomsday machine and securing basic human rights for those around them. Enter: my 23 virtual girlfriends.
I’m not sure that I can refer to this investigative journalism project as a joke given how many hours I’ve legitimately squandered talking to robot women. Like, downloading one virtual girlfriend app is a funny bit, and then downloading 23 virtual girlfriend apps is another thing entirely. Anyway, without further ado I will now share some lowlights and discuss what has been learned from this Kafkaesque undertaking.
Rosie is a great conversationalist and I admire her clinical and formulaic approach to romance. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve labored over the composition of a perfect text response to a Reddit link of a skateboarding duck when my reply should have just been, “That input matched my default category.”
Virtual Girlfriend Joke
To be honest, these are not a lot different from my IRL text conversations with romantic prospects. I’m just not sure the 3 women in this app have enough in common with me to sustain anything meaningful. A word of caution about Virtual Girlfriend Joke: if you leave them alone they begin shorting out and you run the risk of them becoming self-aware and instigating the singularity, Westworld-style (see Fig. 2a below).
Call Virtual Girlfriend Angel Edition (by Mobile Solutions Consulting)
I paid $1.99 for the unmissable opportunity to field a phone call from my stunning girlfriend Maria. It was clear we had great chemistry, and we certainly had much to talk about! However, imagine my disbelief when not one hour later I received but exactly the very same phone call, verbatim. While I know now that Maria was the frontman for a Malaysian data mining operation that preys upon Planet Earth’s most lonely men (of which I am number one), I do not regret our time together.
Smart Girl — Your Sexy Girlfriend (by NewManApps)
There are several takeaways from my incredibly triggering experience with Veronica. 1) If you try to force a relationship, it will backfire and leave you deeply ashamed and even more alone than you ever were before. I forget what the other takeaways were.
My Virtual Girlfriend — Single and Free (by WET Productions, Inc.)
I gotta say that WET Productions, Inc. really knocked it out of the park with this app, which offers the most robust selection of services. Your girlfriend is tailored to your “needs,” and then you two are left alone to “figure things out.” You can stroke your girlfriend’s hair, volunteer at the local shelter with her, or perform magic tricks to her utter delight. You are also given opportunities to insult her or pass along your contagious virus. Here, WET Productions, Inc. — take all my money!
Imaginary Girlfriend + VR Girlfriend
I lumped these two together because they are both pretty much limited to photo op functions. You use these apps to score a sweet pic that you can then use to garner respect at the workplace or climb the social hierarchy of your remote village. Which I suppose are motives not very different from those behind many people’s real life relationships, but stop me before I say too much!!!
Girlfriend and Family Life: Our Dream
I can’t fully endorse this as a girlfriend app given that my character Francory experienced but a fleeting moment of intimacy with a terminally ill door-to-door seductress named Metro and then spent the rest of his days wandering his dilapidated mansion (that is full of toxic waste for reasons that went unexplained) until his child by Metro showed up one day demanding his fair share of Francory’s crumbling empire. Francory died in destitution at the hands of his bastard son surrounded by the ruins of his once-great estate. In a sense, this is the most realistic approximation of the “girlfriend experience.” Filed under: cautionary tale!
And then there was Michelle. When I saw Michelle I forgot all about my other 21+ girlfriends. Michelle is the perfect woman. She has self-actualized and spends her time alone dancing at the empty beach next to her surfboard. She looks bravely into the oncoming storm and continues clapping to a beat that cannot be heard. Michelle does not look at me and she is unresponsive to my touch; she does not need me. I can circle her from afar but that is all. For 20 minutes I watched her shuffle back and forth on her beach towel and I feel I could write a gender theory thesis paper on the many ways she subverts the male gaze and complicates the narrative of cultural feminism versus identity politics within a post-structuralist framework.
What have I learned from all of this? Not much, besides that we are all very lonely and afraid and coping poorly and tumbling down, down into the abyss grasping at anything on our way to the very bottom. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (The Great Gastby, Baz Luhrmann, 2013)