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.
[Bella’s intro: We are still just beginning to understand what it means to be single-at-heart. At this early stage, it is especially illuminating to hear personal stories from people who fit the “single-at-heart” criteria. I’m very grateful that one of the readers most engaged in discussing posts here at the PsychCentral “Single at Heart” blog, “Alan,” has written this guest post. Thanks, Alan! And thanks for your participation over the years. Also: to other readers who consider themselves single-at-heart, if you would also like to write about your experiences for this blog, just let me know.]
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?
How much time do single and married people get to spend on sports and exercise and socializing and reading and traveling and watching TV and doing other kinds of things that count as fun? Thanks to the American Time Use Survey, we have answers to those kinds of questions.
There is only one kind of fun activity (of all those included in the survey) that married people spend more time doing than single people. Can you guess what it is? I would not have guessed correctly.
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.