Crappy holidays:Singles Awareness Day

Looks like I’ve tapped a rich vein of material when it comes to “special days made up for questionable reasons.” Next up is Singles’ Awareness Day, which, as any fule kno, was celebrated on 15 February, the day after St Valentine’s Day. Unlike your average “Hallmark holiday”, there’s no-one who obviously makes money out of this one, so I can only assume it was invented by fearless fighters for the rights of single people  (surely the world’s lamest social activists).

Take that, oppressive social norms of romantic togetherness! You may have cheap-looking cards with hearts on them and low-quality chocs on your side, but we singles know where you live and we aren’t afraid to get mediaeval on your ass! Although that expression doesn’t really work here, since the real Middle Ages was pretty much a high point of getting married whether you liked it or not, not to mention the era when the ideal of romantic love really first emerged.

As a single person, I don’t really see the need for a day on which the world is made more aware of my status, which is really none of its business anyway. I find any notion of the unattached as an oppressed group frankly incredible. I mean who, in the advanced world anyway, loses their job over being single? You’re more likely to be more successful at it because you don’t have to keep ducking out to go home to the wife/husband/S.O. and kids. Who gets beaten up and killed over it? Having to “suffer” Valentine’s Day once a year? Is that something that anyone over the age of 16 is seriously bothered about? Really, the more you think about it, the more Singles’ Awareness Day becomes almost symbolic of “overindulged Westerners with far too much time on their hands behaving like big spoilt babies because they don’t have literally everything they might have.” And that’s something we already see far too much of.

I could write a book about my own romantic “history” (the most boring one in history, but still), but in the end the reasons I’m single would boil down to the usual mixture of bad decisions, bad luck, general laziness and, probably, not really wanting it hard enough. Of course, it cuts both ways and the truth is that I’ve clearly never inspired wild romantic desires in others. “I’m single by choice – not my choice” applies to me as much as all the other people who clearly think it’s a side-splitting meme. Very few people actually set out to be single from day one.

If you end up that way, though, you eventually come to accept it; the alternatives aren’t pretty. Just look at Elliot Rodger, who killed six people in 2014 because girls weren’t interested in him. According to his “manifesto”, only blondes need have applied – lucky them. On a less extreme level, there are all the many, many young men who whinge endlessly on the internet about being “Forever Alone” and sit around creating those side-splitting memes about their existential tragedy. Really, it’s a story of crazy emotional self-indulgence from beginning to end, and we shouldn’t enable its continuance with a fake holiday.

The whole idea of single people as some kind of unified group requiring that others be aware of their needs also promotes the fatally attractive idea for many – including me, sometimes – that what you really need to do in life is go out, find someone else’s prefabricated notion of an identity and, if it fits, wear it, because then you’ll know what you truly are and must do. You’re single? Well, then you should be doing this. You’re a black man? Well, you should act like that. You’re a genderfluid genderqueer from non-binary Bulgaria? I don’t believe you, but here’s the pronouns you should insist on anyway. But you can’t buy identity off the rack, made by someone else. You have to create it, and ultimately what you are doesn’t have a name, apart from your name. If you accept other people’s labels, hostile or sympathetic, you stop being the individual you are.

Famously, God’s self-description in the Bible is “I am what I am.” We’re supposed to be made in God’s image; maybe that’s what we should all be aiming for.

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