“…I got a virtual reality body suit, yeah, it fits just like a glove. Gonna access my baby on the internet, make some long slow cyberspace love……….’cause I’m ridin’ on that information highway, that electronic road. Got a fifty gig disk so there ain’t no risk of data overload. Gonna roll on down that highway, won’t be left behind. Have it all my way on that information highway, ride it to the end of the line.” Information Highway, copyright 1993
One of the many songs I wrote that you never heard.
A prophet is without honor in his own land, but, guess what? That prophesy has just about arrived.
Caryn Marjorie, at least that’s the name they go by, is an “internet lifestyle influencer.” More specifically, an online girlfriend. The “real” Caryn, which may or may not be real, is a 23 year old girl of indeterminate race with a waif-like, innocently seductive face and a slender but well proportioned body. She spends her days doing whatever Caryn does and sharing it on Snapchat. For a fee.
Look at photos of Caryn, and it’s easy to see why 98% of her paying followers are male.
Nothing out of the ordinary so far. Influencers are not new in media. Think cooking show hosts, online personal trainers or my “personal” online guitar teacher, Brian at www.activemelody.com, who is by far the best teacher I ever had.
Not having visited Caryn’s site, I have no idea of exactly what she is influencing her guys to do. I imagine, though, that many of them are doing what guys have always done while interacting virtually with an attractive female–ever since Sears started putting illustrations of women’s intimate garments in their catalog.
Caryn started out interacting personally with her viewers, at least those shelling out her “premium” fee, but she’s accumulated so many followers and there are only so many hours in a day. Many of those hours are taken up by the daily chronicling of her fascinating activities, whatever they may be.
So little time, so many fans. What’s a girl to do?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. An example of it is the “person” you “converse” with in chat boxes while unsuccessfully trying to get online help with a company’s product. CarynAI can “relate” to millions of virtual friends all at once for the low price of one dollar per minute. Caryn’s online avatar looks like her, moves like her, talks like her, and, who knows, the magic of tech may eventually let it smell and feel like her. Some fans spend hours every day chatting with CarynAI who, through the miracle of ChatGPT, is capable of tailoring her responses to the individual emotional needs and preferences of each “boyfriend.”
The real Caryn is on track to earn $5 million dollars a month while actually having nothing to do with those (dare I say desperate?) fellows who ardently pour out their hearts to her.
Talk about having your cake and eating it!
Still, Caryn is not without her problems. Predictably, some stuffy old traditionalists believe real relationships with real people are actually preferable to virtual ones. They are chilled at the prospects that lie in store for the human race once just about everyone gives up those messy real relationships for AI ones. Some consider CarynAI to be just another form of prostitution. Some even threaten the poor girl, forcing her to spend some of her hard earned dollars on a security detail.
When I initially read about CarynAI, I must admit I was inclined toward siding with the critics. On reflection, though, I realized that, in my own way, I have more than a little in common with her. No, sadly, not her sex appeal. But as a blogger aren’t I doing the same sort of thing?
I started this blog to sell books. That went over like the proverbial lead balloon and stuck me with this web site and its fee. Lemonade from lemons, I decided to indulge my love of writing by becoming an online philosopher and social and political commentator. During Covid lockdown, this became my main way of connecting with people– local friends whom I would normally bore with my musings in person, as well as older, and even some former, friends living at a distance. Many of my followers have never met me or have had nothing to do with the actual me for years, but they enthusiastically respond to my electronic presence.
In a given week a handful of loyal fans will send deep or witty responses to the blog to which I respond personally. Not infrequently they seek advice. This is truly gratifying. It makes me aware that some people find something valuable on these pages and gives welcome affirmation.
Like Caryn, I put myself on display to the public, opening myself to both appreciation and scorn. Trust me, this requires a healthy (maybe an inflated?) ego, a thick hide and not a little courage. Like Caryn, I get some of the benefits of real relationships without some of the hassles in-person dealings inevitably entail.
The main difference between me and Caryn, I think, is that what I get out of writing is intangible. It’s a creative outlet that, first and foremost, serves to enhance my intellectual and emotional well being. Since I’m going to the trouble of writing, I figure I may as well put the essays out there in case anyone may find them interesting.
Caryn, on the other hand, seems to be primarily motivated by notoriety and money.
Still, far be it from me to throw stones from my glass house.
Despite all the ethical questions that arise and the still-to-be-learned social consequences of AI’s burgeoning presence in our lives, one can’t deny that if socially challenged people are happy having a relationship with an avatar, if it gives them a reason for living or if it keeps some misfits and creeps occupied and off there streets, Caryn and her ilk are performing a public service.
Now if only I could leverage this gig into five million bucks a month…