Singles Rule! The Surprising Media Phenomenon of 2012

Mid-February is supposed to be all about couples – treacly, dewey-eyed, Valentine’s Day lover couples. In a phenomenon that even surprised me, this February the media has been all about singles – and mostly in a good way.

Actually, it didn’t take until February for that to happen. In January, Boston Magazine featured a cover story by reporter Janelle Nanos, with the terrific title, “Single by choice: Why more of us than ever before are happy to never get married.” Sharon Jayson followed that with her story in USA Today, Many singles looking for love, but not marriage.

Really, though, a lot of the momentum dates back to November, 2011, when Kate Bolick’s story, All the single ladies, was heralded on the cover of the Atlantic magazine. According to the Hooking Up Smart blog, the article is “the most read article in the magazine’s history, was optioned as a TV show in development by Sony, and recently generated a book deal in the high six figures for Bolick.”

But back to this year. Another big driver of attention to single people has been Eric Klinenberg’s book, Going solo: The extraordinary rise and surprising appeal of living alone. It inspired Maura Kelly to write the story, Singled Out: Are unmarried people discriminated against?, for the Daily Beast (the online site associated with Newsweek). Then CBS This Morning followed with this wonderful video segment (with a big-screen shout-out to Singled Out) and online story, Ways it pays to be married, how singles pay more.

The Going Solo book was about living solo, not just about living single. (Most singles actually do not live alone.) That got the New York Times interested in the topic, Being Alone Together. The opinion page invited a number of people to contribute essays. Mine was called A new American experiment. (You can describe your own interesting living arrangements in this survey.)

Around the same time, the Washington Post Magazine lauded its own cover story, The single life, by Ellen McCarthy. Previously, the Post had welcomed single readers to answer a survey about their lives, and more than 1,500 did. The results were reported here. There was a live chat about the story, too. Michel Martin invited McCarthy and me to discuss the cover story on her NPR show, “Tell Me More.” That segment was titled, Is single life something to lament or celebrate? An extra bonus: the Single with Attitude site got mentioned. (Okay, so I’m the one who mentioned it.)

I have noted only the very high-profile stories about singles. (Tell me if I have missed any.) Many more have appeared in smaller magazines and newspapers and radio shows and on lots of blogs, in just these first seven weeks of the year 2012.

So what should we make of all of this attention? I’m sure that much will be said about it in the coming months. So far, my favorite discussion has been the one on Slate, by Katie Roiphe, Sex and the single girl: Why American culture is so scared by single people. I’ll write about that in my next Living Single post over at Psychology Today.

Finally, on another topic, I’m trying to learn more about two topics – people who are (and are not) single at heart, and the new 21st century living arrangements that do not involve just married parents and their kids living under one roof. I’ve created two surveys, and if you are interested, I’d love to hear from you.

Click here for the Single at Heart survey.

Click here for the New Ways of Living survey.


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8 thoughts on “Singles Rule! The Surprising Media Phenomenon of 2012

  1. Pingback: DePaulo on media coverage of solos/singles | Flying High Solo

  2. Pingback: DePaulo highlights 2102 media on singles/solos | Flying High Solo

  3. Mid-February is supposed to be all about couples – treacly, dewey-eyed, Valentine’s Day lover couples. No so for me. I was outside in the woods here in Arkansas, as well as attending local potlucks twice a week. Yeah for me. I took the survey!
    Here is one for ya':
    Md. woman charged with theft linked to online love
    February 17, 2012 14:42 GMT
    FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office says a property manager embezzled $137,000 from a homeowners association and wired at least some of the money to an online love interest in South Africa. Sixty-two-year-old Nancy Walker of Boonsboro was charged Thursday in a criminal summons. The alleged victim is the Ballenger Creek Meadows Home Owners Association near Frederick. Walker couldn’t be reached immediately for comment. Her home phone has been disconnected, and court records don’t list a defense attorney.
    Cpl. Jennifer Bailey told The Frederick News-Post that Walker was romantically involved with a man she met on the Internet but never saw in person. Bailey says Walker was the subdivision’s property manager for 15 years, but only started stealing the money in November.
    Blog on, Bella.
    Living tiny in the Ouachita Mountains, (pronounced /ˈwɒʃɨtɔː/ wosh-i-taw) are a mountain range in west central Arkansas and southeastern Oklahoma. am elderberry not looking for a boysenberry!

    PS: On October 7, 2011 – The Doctors’ Ultimate Weekend Guide

  4. The recent interview was excellent. Just Excellent. I am thankful to be single, healthy and alive. Celibacy is my friend, too. Here is another one for your file, readers:
    Parker County woman tells jurors she prayed amid torture ordeal
    Because she’s a devout Christian and had never married, the 63-year-old woman had no sexual experiences — By ANGELA K. BROWN The Associated Press Published: 16 February 2012 11:07 AM — WEATHERFORD — When her legs were chained to a bed, as she was locked in a nearly airtight wooden box, and while she was tortured on a deer-skinning device, a Parker County woman was terrified her former neighbor would kill her — but says she never stopped praying. “I prayed all the time: silently, mentally,” the woman testified Wednesday during the trial of Jeffrey Allan Maxwell, 59, who faces up to life in prison if convicted of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault. During the 12 days she was held captive, she said, one of her repeated prayers was: “God, don’t let Jeff kill me! God, please spare my life!” He then took her into his garage, severely whipped and sexually assaulted her while she was suspended naked on a deer-skinning device, she said. Because she’s a devout Christian and had never married, the 63-year-old woman had no sexual experiences before the ordeal and didn’t understand what was happening, she said. She became even more upset when she thought God may not forgive her, she said.
    And, Man gets 10 years for role in Rio Hondo teacher’s death By MADELINE BUCKLEY/The Brownsville Herald 2012-02-16 — Her husband, Julio Cesar Perez, 42, a Pentecostal minister, is facing a capital murder charge, accused of paying the gunman to kill his wife.
    RIO HONDO — The state dismissed the capital murder charge against one of the men accused in the shooting death of Rio Hondo teacher Sonia Perez Thursday after the man pleaded guilty to tampering with evidence. Mark Daniel Garza, 23, was sentenced to 10 years in prison based on the plea bargain arrived at by the state and Garza’s attorney.

  5. My small dream is to drive a Solar powered Antro Solo Prototype readying to zoom in 2012 and, readers do not neglect to read this timely book: Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter Lloyd Kahn (Author) Also he wrote Shelter Lloyd Kahn (Editor), Bob Easton (Editor)
    January 24, 2012 – There’s a grassroots movement in tiny homes these days. The real estate collapse, the economic downturn, burning out on 12-hour workdays — many people are rethinking their ideas about shelter — seeking an alternative to high rents, or a lifelong mortgage debt to a bank on an overpriced home. In this book are some 150 builders who have taken things into their own hands, creating tiny homes (under 500 sq. ft.). Homes on land, homes on wheels, homes on the road, homes on water, even homes in the trees. There are also studios, saunas, garden sheds, and greenhouses. There are 1,300 photos, showing a rich variety of small homemade shelters, and there are stories (and thoughts and inspirations) of the owner-builders who are on the forefront of this new trend in downsizing and self-sufficiency.

  6. I agree with his comments after viewing this timely broadast, because the same could be said about the subject of singles. Americans are woefully ignorant about singles and their lifestyles.
    Former U.S. National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski presents his foreign policy recommendations to restore U.S. status in the world. He discussed his vision with National Journal chief correspondent Michael Hirsch, the former “The World from Washington” Newsweek columnist. Zbigniew Brzezinski also said all Americans are woefully ignorant about the world, global affairs, history and geography, during this very important and timely interview. Also, in 20-30 years no country can play a major role.

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