In body parts, houses, and research studies, bigger is not always better.
Every month, 60,500 people go to their Google search bar and type the question, “Is Santa real?” That’s from a study by Search Factory, an Australian optimization agency. I like to read the original versions of studies, but I can’t find this one, so I’m relying here on press reports. Risky, I know.
In articles discussing the results of the research, the question about Santa was the only one that was asked more often than this one:
[Note: This is Part 2 of a 2-part series on why it matters when misleading reports about marriage and single life are perpetrated in the media. Part 1 is here.]
All of the media reports claiming that getting married will make you lastingly happier or healthier or better in some other psychological, emotional, or physical way – they are all wrong. Every single one of them. (There is one way that getting married does help – it makes you wealthier. That’s because of discriminatory practices of singlism built right into our laws and practices. But you can lose a lot in a flash if you get divorced.)
In 1986, Newsweek published a cover story with the sensational claim that a 40-year old woman who had never married was “more likely to be killed by a terrorist” than to ever get married. Even thought the viral powers of social media were decades in the future, the story took off. It was discussed everywhere, mostly unquestioningly. Finally, Susan Faludi took it apart in her brilliant Backlash book, but by then, the damage was done. Decades later, even Newsweek copped to getting it wrong, though they did so in a story that itself was matrimanical.
When I moved to California in 2000, thinking I would be here for just a one-year sabbatical, I rented a beautiful home. When I loved my whole Southern California experience so much that I decided never to return to Virginia, I sold the home I owned in Virginia and stayed in the rental place in California. One thing I don’t like out here is the real estate market – buying is beyond my means.
After nearly 14 years, my rent has gone up but my income has not, so I have been looking for a new place. One of the homes I inquired about had three bedrooms. I asked if I could make an appointment to see it. The owner wanted me to answer a question before she would show me the place: Why, as a single person, did I need three bedrooms?
With that Malaysian Airlines flight still missing, I have been thinking about another flight that could have been catastrophic but wasn’t. It was five years ago when Captain Sully Sullenberger heroically achieved a dramatic landing of a plane that was in serious trouble. As the aftermath unfolded, we learned more about how various people reacted when the dramatic events were in progress.
Over the course of blogging for many years, particular people who participate in the discussions in the Comments section start to seem familiar to me, even if I’ve never met them. Once, when I got a personal email from one such person, I recognized the name and responded right away. She later told me that she was happy to hear from me so quickly, and mentioned that to someone else. That person’s interpretation? “She got back to you so quickly because she’s single.”
One of the most frustrating things about singlism – the stereotyping, stigmatizing, and discrimination against people who are single – is that it is not just practiced by select portions of the population, say, those who practice racism or sexism or ageism or heterosexism or any of the other more familiar isms. Sadly, the sin of singlism knows no bounds. Smart, progressive people, cutting-edge publications, successful businesses – all of them, and more, practice singlism, usually without apology or even any awareness that there is anything to apologize for.
I love chocolate, but do you know what I love even more? Smart, enlightening writings about single people and single life! Yesterday, to my surprise and delight, one story after another set aside the tired old Valentine’s Day stories about gooey-eyed couples and myths about the transformative powers of marriage and coupling, and instead told some truths – or, in some cases, they at least got close to some truths.
Considering that this is not the first time that the matrimaniacal holiday was inflected with a bit of singles savvy (here, for example), maybe we can start expecting something like this to continue into the future.
Here are some of the sweetest things I found online, or in my email inbox, over the past day or so:
Just about every time a new Census Report comes out, it shows that the age at which Americans first marry – among those who do marry – has reached a new record high. In 2013, the age for men reached 29 for the first time ever. For women, it was 26.6.
I’m interested in the age at which Americans first marry because the increase in that number is one of many factors contributing to the ever-growing number of Americans who are single. For others, though, it is a source of angst. Omigosh, the older generations are exclaiming, the millennials are just never going to grow up! Omigosh, the millennials who want to marry are saying as they berate themselves, am I ever going to make it into the Married Couples Club? (The single-at-heart are blissfully free of such concerns.)