There's no surprise that the pandemic has birthed a nation of socially starved individuals. Some of which have now turned to technology for a sense of support and comfort – take AI bots and highly popularised NFTs, for instance.
For the blissfully unaware, a non-fungible token (NFT) is essentially a 'token' to say you own a digital item. Each NFT has a different level of value and popularity – think of it almost like a digital Pokémon trading card.
But now, there's a new NFT trend on the horizon. More specifically, NFTs that double up as lovers.
That's right. Cryptobros can now fork out thousands for their very own 'girlfriend' in the form of an inanimate digital painting. With one NFT girlfriend being sold at over $100,000, lucky users can choose from an assortment of female faces – whether that be a piece of artwork that appears 'angelic' or perhaps resembling a 'hippie' – or more specifically, a 'gold digger.'
Bull Market Girlfriends
Bull Market Girlfriends was set up by artist Kristina and her husband Martin. After years of experimenting with oil paintings, they made the move over to digital art. Their collection of 2,500 hand-drawn cryptographically secured digital paintings has already turned around $1 million in profit through the NFT marketplace OpenSea.
While the concept of 'buying and selling women' has been criticised for its overtly sexist message, Bull Market Girlfriends argue that their collection draws inspiration from the long artistic history of female portraiture. To them, it's "primarily an art project – buy it if you like it."
"I’m a woman drawing portraits of other beautiful woman. People who find this offensive have to live with their own anger, it does not affect the collection," Kristina told Indy100. She added that Bull Market Girlfriends has a "very diverse community" with "one of the highest ratios of women in the industry."
Their aim is "to combine the vision and originality of some of the best artists in the NFT space and create alliances between communities."
Bull Market Girfriends
Initially, the collection drew inspiration from real women, including Lindsay Lohan – who Bull Market Girlfriends have an official collaboration with. "A community member reached out and put us in touch on the second week of the collection," Kristina explained. "It was a pretty surreal moment."
There's clearly a market for NFT girlfriends too, with more and more people investing their crypto in digital partners. Indy100 spoke with an NFT girlfriend owner under the pseudonym, Jake, about the allure of this emerging digital phenomenon.
Jake witnessed the trend taking off in real-time and figured "why not have a girlfriend and try to make a profit at the same time?"
He admitted that while he was fairly new to the NFT realm, he managed to bag his "girlfriend" at a bargain cost of around $400. He aims to sell her on for a jaw-dropping $10-15K.
The self-proclaimed "digital pimp" was initially attracted to the idea of "owning his very own exclusive girlfriend" who he can spend quality time with whenever he wanted. "I got a printout of the NFT which I display on my wall, right above where I work as a reminder of what a great purchase she was," he explained.
In what he described as a "weird concept", Jake confessed that his involvement with NFT girlfriends made him feel like a "pimp" following the motto of: "If you want my girl, you've got to pay!"
Bull Market Girlfriends
To the majority, the emerging trend is difficult to conceptualise – but are NFT girlfriends dark signifiers of a loneliness epidemic?
According to behavioural scientist Clarissa Silva, very much so. It could also potentially lead to toxic behaviours in the real world.
"While a synthetic companion can provide temporary comfort and a viable option for some, it also has the opposite effect," Silva explained. "By reducing real human contact, it can blur reality, it encourages unsafe practices that may then become behavioural patterns that are used on humans, and it creates unrealistic expectations of your future partner."
Jake candidly confessed that he wished he was "attractive to women in real life that [he] could have [his] pick of a bunch of women at once, but that's just not the case."
The NFT world gives him a newfound power to "play out his fantasy" – but with art. "She's not going to leave me, and that's a comforting feeling," he said. "I definitely feel like I could acquire several more girls and I wouldn't be doing anything wrong."
He explained how he thrives in the space knowing his NFT girlfriend "won't run off with some other guy." This feeling of complete security "helps [him] sleep better at night."
"I have all the power in the relationship and it's very reassuring for a guy like me that doesn't have quite the same dominance with real-life women."
Admittedly, NFT girlfriends aren't for everyone, but for those intrigued by the notion, Jake enthusiastically recommends to "go for it" – but only if you have some existing knowledge about the world of crypto and NFTs.
He advises to start small and get a feel for how it all works.
"It's a nice feeling to know that you can literally own the most beautiful digital representation of a girlfriend, and she's all yours for as long as you want to keep her.
"Before long, you'll have it all figured out, and you can be a digital pimp like me!"
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