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.