Sometimes, singledom feels like a spotlight that comes from out of the sky, to, well, literally single you out. According to an article I read today, 49% of the American population is single. Boy, was that a surprising statistic to hear! I mean, gosh, when I go out with friends it’s really easy to feel like you’re the only single person on the planet. Your friends are constantly popping out with “My boyfriend/girlfriend/partner/wife/husband/spouse loves underwater basket weaving!”, everyone else appears to have someone to dance with or make googly eyes at, and no matter how hard to look you can’t find that lonely, quiet person being a wallflower in the corner of the room… and then you have a moment where you realize it’s because that’s you. I’ve also noticed that, in these settings, it’s extremely common for someone, intentionally or not, to say something derogatory about being single or about how glad they are they’re not single anymore.
And there’s the spotlight.
Everyone’s suddenly looking at you, whether they’re being subtle about it or not, as though you’re supposed to speak on behalf of singles everywhere. As though it is your duty to rise up, like a phoenix, and espouse the benefits of singledom to all of your long, lost coupled friends. Which is exactly how I dreamt of spending my Saturday evening.
Sometimes this happens in text, too. For example, this morning I opened up my e-mail box to find an e-mail titled, “Is it Cheaper to be Single?” Since the headline suggests something that goes against conventional wisdom, I decided to read the article. The conclusion? In 5 out of 7 categories they raise, couples have the financial edge. So, uh, excuse my confusion, but what the fudge? I mean, I know I quit journalism specifically because there’s no integrity left in the field, but who taught you how to write headlines? Any headline with a question mark is trying to do one of two (if not both) things:
(1) Buck conventional wisdom (ex: “Can Chocolate make you thinner?!” note: it can’t, but it will make you happier) or
(2) Ask a Leading question (ex: “Did Revenge Drive Mary Jo Mad?!”)
This headline fails at both, miserably. It’s obvious, to me, that it was supposed to be a leading question. Leading questions are supposed to elicit “yes” responses. So a leading question for this article would actually be, “Is it cheaper to be married?” since we want the audience to think “yes” before they read the article, and because the article confirms this. Now, I suppose they could be trying to buck conventional wisdom that being married is better financially with that headline… except that the article confirms, repeatedly, that it’s better to be coupled, at least financially speaking. So, what the what?
And here I am, sitting single in the middle of the theatre, spotlight on, wondering why they’re all looking at ME (“IS it cheaper to be single??”), while the person directing the spotlight knows better.
Perhaps the problem is just that single people make good scapegoats. We’re already beaten over the head with the idea that we’re broken or incomplete just by virtue of being single, why not dump whatever else you feel like on us? Economy’s broken? Healthcare costs are rising? Institution of marriage crumbling at your feet?! Oh, wait, that one’s the gays’ fault. Damn gays, wanting to display your love like all those heteros! It’s like we don’t even accept that we’re second class citizens!
Ehem, I digress.
So, with Valentine’s Day upon us, here’s a little counter measure for you all: Gaysayer’s Jaded Hearts Club. It’s basically a bunch of comedians tweeting cynicism. Love it.
And for all of you out there who do have Sweethearts (the “someone special” phrase makes me break out in hives), have a Happy Valentine’s Day!