I could have called this post “the Media’s View of Singles”. The media has a dual role in our world today, firstly as a reflection of the world’s viewpoint and secondly as an influence over the world’s viewpoint. I wanted to make this more personal though: we are part of this world so I have opted to entitle this post as I have. For the purposes of this post, let’s consider the world’s view and the media’s view as one and the same, although this is not strictly true.
According to the eMarketer blog (post from 29 March 2011), in 2010 TV advertising spending in the US grew 9.7% to $59 billion (divide by 10 for the approximate Canadian figure). Fifty-nine billion dollars…wow…Just from TV ads, not including magazines, on-line, etc. Obviously somebody out there believes that the media has some influence over us.
If this is the case, we really should see what the media is saying about us singles. Alas, to understand the world’s view on singles we need to start with their view on non-singles. Yes, I know, this is supposed to be a blog for singles, about singles, by singles but sometimes we have to at least mention those marrieds out there.
If you are oldish like me you may have perhaps heard of some of the TV shows from the 50s, 60s and 70s, like Leave it to Beaver, the Partridge Family, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Addams Family, I Love Lucy, Green Acres, etc. They all centred on family life and some of the trials and hilarity that comes to married couples. Even some of the shows from the 80s, like the Bill Cosby Show, focused primarily on family life to entertain their fans.
Today’s TV shows, however, seem quite different. There are a few that do centre around families (Everybody Loves Raymond, the Sopranos) but they are in the minority and don’t quite have the same message about the importance of family as the shows from the past. If you look carefully, what you will see instead of shows about family are a whole lot of cop shows and medical shows (and vampire shows…). Instead of being married, most people in these shows are single, separated, divorced, or living together. What does tie them together is that their main characters spend a considerable amount of time looking for love. Unfortunately, they seem to be “looking for love in all the wrong places” to quote Johnny Lee.
“I am just a small girl in a big world trying to find someone to love.”
― Marilyn Monroe
This leads us to a crucial point: what is the world’s view of love? From watching TV, listening to music and reading magazines we get the idea that love is a feeling that one gets about that special someone, and once that is gone, then there is no more love. I think this is why we have so many disappointed, unfulfilled and searching people, both Christians and non-Christians, in our world. Because this is not what love is.
First Corinthians 13:4 – 8, 13 says, “4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. NIV
I see no mention there of particular feelings about a person, but what it does mention are characteristics of true commitment which is a choice, not a feeling. These are also characteristics of God–this is how He loves us. How do we show love to God? We obey Him (John 14:15, plus many other places). There is no talk of a warm, fuzzy emotion that makes your heart race and your pupils dilate.
So, you see, if the world has an aberrant view of love, it will skew their view of relationships and, therefore, of singles AND marrieds.
They are correct in one aspect, though, and this is that our world is all about love. Not eros, or sexual love, as our media would like us to believe, but agape, or Godly love.
I had a non-Christian friend of mine a few years ago tell me that she had finally figured me out–she said that I was ‘asexual’. This surprised me somewhat and did make me giggle (I couldn’t help it! She was comparing me to a plant or some forms of fungi–you have to laugh at that!). But this really does show a lack of understanding about me. I like guys. I have had crushes on male movie actors, television actors and even some of the real people around me. I am not asexual, rather a heterosexual female that chooses to not practice pre-marital sex.
Our world cannot understand us singles because they are so focused on love between people as being the ultimate fulfillment in their lives. We Christians should know better, but that $59 billion advertising budget has gone a long way to deceive us.
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, that depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Christians should focus on God’s love first, then on loving others. Isn’t this how Christ answered the Pharisees in Matthew 22?
35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
We can’t expect the world to understand something they don’t believe, but by understanding what the world does believe about us and how it is thus reflected in the media today we can hopefully keep ourselves from being deceived by this world and to start living more fulfilled lives. If enough of us lived the truth about love in this world (meaning that God IS love), this could bring about a revolution in the way the world thinks and then perhaps in the way the media displays. It’s just a thought.