This would be our last discussion session before we move into critiquing final projects. For this week, students read Chapter 7 of Happy Singlehood, along with Bella’s “Discrimination Against Singles in the Health Care System.”
The thing that stood out the most to students was the idea of relationships with robots. Most of my students didn’t quite get the concept; honestly, I can’t quite imagine it, either. I can’t speak for everyone, but I do need my platonic and familial connections. That being said, my response to students who were weirded out by the idea was “if robots can be made to think and feel emotion, I can get on board.” It made me think of Weird Science and Her, two films about human connection with technology (singlist, though they are).
Michael wrote about the idea of communities targeted to singles, an idea I would love to see come to fruition more (we’re on our way there). It got me thinking of Eric Klinenberg’s discussion of single-occupancy dwellings in Going Solo; I would love to live in an apartment building or housing community where it’s just singles. I’d walk out of my home, and I’d only see groups of friends or people walking solo. Essentially, I’d feel a sense of belonging. Kelly also brought up how she discovered travel groups designed specifically for singles and solo travelers; in her words, “a group of 20 people pool their money together for an exclusive vacation to a tropical location.” It got me thinking of Flashpack, an agency that puts together solo travelers so they’re not necessarily “traveling solo” (I may wish to use that at some point).
The future of friendships came up in Amy’s discussion; as marriage rates are declining and singlehood is on the rise, the weight of platonic friendships will increase as well, and Amy put it nicely: “a friendship can hold the weight as a romantic relationship.” Friendships do take a degree of maintenance that can be even more challenging than a romantic one, mostly because you’re not with friends on as frequent a basis as you might be with a romantic partner. Therefore, the “rules” about how often to call or get together are a lot more fluid. Fortunately, at least in mine, they’re laxer due to the fact that I love my alone time.
Students were outraged in reading Bella’s article about the health care system. Some of the comments came:
Walter – “I think it was very weird for someone not able (sic) to visit their friends because they’re not in an intimate relationship”
Karen – “I never understood why friends couldn’t visit a loved one in the hospitals because they are technically not family”
Amy – “It is upsetting to hear about all of the injustices that the health care system can bring to others.”
One comment stood out, and it came from Mary, who is critical of everything she reads, which I admire. However, she went on to say that while hospitals shouldn’t place such restrictions on who visits, who doesn’t, it doesn’t rise to the level of discrimination. Normally, I’m pretty diplomatic when it comes to my students’ views, but I couldn’t resist putting up a challenge:
Mary, I would disagree with your contention. Why should a married person receive priority in treatment than a single person? It happens all the time. It may not be severe as racial or sexual orientation discrimination, but it's there.
My hope is that someday, this type of treatment will come to be seen as discrimination. Such issues are the reason this course exists in the first place, and it’s why students are working on a change to a policy that discriminates. More about that in a couple of weeks.
Stay safe, and wash your hands!
My name is Craig. I'm an educator, writer, and unapologetic singleton. When not reading, writing, or teaching, I enjoy hiking, running, watching movies, going to concerts, spending time with friends, and playing with my cat/son, Chester.