Lately there has been a small low-level rash of articles about being single and how this is a growing trend in the Western world. Most of the articles ultimately come back to a book by Eric Klineberg called ‘Going Solo’, which I haven’t read yet as it’s not on the library catalogue yet unless it was co-written by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake…
The stat that everyone is obsessing over is an interesting one; that in 1950 22% of American adults were single and now almost 50% of them are.
The book apparently looks at this fact through interviews with single people and, from the mixture of press coverage I’ve seen, the jury seems to be out on whether these singletons get a good or bad press from their treatment. Apparently though, regardless of ageing populations which I think must alter the figures in some way, if we have the money to do so we’ll always prefer to be single.
So, I think it is interesting that this debate is open once more and even more interesting just how much some people are getting defensive or despairing about the statistics. Are we independent and educated decision makers or the ridiculously idealistic, over-choosy and selfish?
I think many people are missing the real story here. It’s interesting that so many people are going against what the mainstream culture still perceives as ‘normal’. After all, being in a couple and creating a family is still meant to be the ideal and single people are still a source of envy or pity who satellite around the edges of these family planets.
Most of our adult life is about the milestones and goals of getting into a relationship, making a commitment and having a family; engagements, weddings, christenings etc. Aside from increasingly under-whelming birthdays, there are no celebrations for having a single life. There are no special spaces in the car park. Most importantly there is little in the way of support out there for when you get sick, or in trouble or just plain lonely; we just should have found our other half and made our family support network before we got infirm. In a society which is becoming more independent perhaps we need to develop more of a spinster and bachelor network to support each other when the going gets tough.