Remember when breaking up was hard to do? There were the teary speeches, the recriminations, the anguish at losing someone who meant a great deal to you.
Well, not anymore.
These days, with a bit of help from technology – that great enabler of emotional detachment – we can pay someone to do the dirty work for us.
Enter Australian business Sorry It’s Over, the work of Melbourne-based nurse Kristy Mazins who saw a gap in the emotional escape-clause market.
For as little as $5.50, Ms Mazins will send a text or email to the significant other you wish to render insignificant.
You can also have it done by phone ($12), snail mail ($13.50) or in person ($66), and if you want to send flowers it’ll set you back $77.
Or if you are feeling especially guilty you can opt for the sympathy hamper for $90, which comes with wine, chocolates, tissues, a written affirmation and, incongruously, a serving of peanuts.
“Why look them in the eye and watch the hurt?” the website states.
“No one wants to deal with all that screaming, sobbing, begging and emotional pleas of ‘just one more chance’.
“Let us sort out your relationship for you!”
Ms Mazins’ website may seem like a new frontier in the world of outsourcing, but should we be surprised?
It is not uncommon these days for busy professionals to use “virtual assistants” to complete the menial tasks that clutter our inboxes and fill up our to-do lists.
According to Sydney-based job website freelancer.com, there has been a 95 per cent increase in demand for virtual assistants in the past three years.
Freelancer.com allows people to post projects on the website that these virtual assistants pick up from anywhere in the world.
You may want a website built, a paper researched or a logo designed.
Or, in the case of a recent poster, you may need 7000 synonyms “relating to industrial waste bins, skips bins, marrell bins, hook lift bins, forklift bins, tipping bins, rubbish, hook lift trucks, waste, compactors, landfill” which were to be used as keywords at the backend of the website to increase the company’s Google rankings.
The project budget was $30-$250, and, as of Thursday night, 23 people had bid for the job.
Your needs do not have to be work-based chores either: irritating miscellany is not beyond the service of this freelance band of helpers and assistants.
Airtasker, for example, has truly changed the way people do (or don’t do) menial, time-consuming jobs.
Why waste hours reading the instruction manual on your latest Ikea purchase when you can hire someone to assemble furniture through Airtasker?
You can also hire someone to queue for festival or sporting tickets, help you with your iTunes account (there is a dedicated section on the Airtasker site to iTunes), lay crushed granite, bring you KFC, even pick up a cake.
Website Fiverr allows you to order a host of services for $5.
Current offers include people who will “give you amazing Instagram attention”, “make a font from Word from your own handwriting” and “make one phone call for you on your behalf”.
If you need someone to mind your pooch while you go on holidays, you can use the Lonely Pets Club whose members will visit your home to care for and walk your pet.
They will also water your plants and collect your mail for an extra fee.
And if you ever need to move from said home – never fear – you can pay someone to do that for you, too. There are numerous Australian companies, such as Moving Angels that will pack your entire house the day before you move.
Cleaners were once the preserve of Toorak matrons with money to burn.
These days, however, you can subscribe to a host of websites – such as Oneflare – that will post a call-out for a cleaner or handyman and bidders for the job will contact you within a matter of minutes, many offering highly competitive rates.
Oneflare also offers wallpaper experts, who will help you select, as well as apply, the wallpaper.
Drawing a line
While some of these websites are truly liberating in their ability to free us from mundane domesticity, it is worth asking if we have gone too far.
In The Outsourced Self, US author Arlie Russell Hochschild argues that we have, and our reliance on outsourcing has allowed the market place to creep into previously sacrosanct areas of our lives.
While very few people will argue against hiring a cleaner to relieve a busy family on the weekends, who among us can seriously countenance ending a relationship through an anonymous third party?
It doesn’t matter how expensive the break-up sympathy hamper is, that’s just cowardly.