Friday, December 28, 2012

The Terrible Tragedy

This video is so ridiculous, I just had to laugh watching it. It was shown at a huge conference for frum (ultra-Orthodox) Jews in 2009 and speaks of a "great tragedy": that 14% of  "girls" (their word, not mine) from the community polled, ages 24-29, are - wait for it (hat-tip Barney Stinson!) - still single. Unlike (SPOILER!) Barney Stinson. 

I find it particularly amusing because I was probably included in this poll. The high school that I graduated from actually reached out to find out if I was married or single a few years ago. I couldn't understand why the heck they would care, but now it all makes sense. They needed me for their tragic poll. 

I actually feel awful titling this post, "The Terrible Tragedy," in the wake of the Newtown massacre and argued with myself for a bit before deciding to stick with the title  - because I want it to be clear how utterly absurd it is that "They" consider this such a tragedy. 

Being single is not tragic. Living in a world where it is considered a tragedy to be single, as I've written before, is not only unhealthy, but can actually be dangerous. 

You would think that a community that, within living memory, suffered an actual genocide would be more careful in using the word "tragedy" so freely. Because although I laughed watching this video, it really isn't funny.


  1. I feel exactly the same way. We have a HOLOCAUST! THAT definitely qualifies as a "crisis."

    If anything, I think it is a good thing that singles are staying single longer. This generation is maturing at a much slower rate than previous ones, and it is better that they get to know themselves first before marrying.

    1. :Agreed: We should get to know ourselves before marrying. Though I've come to realize that for some people, getting married young - i.e. before they know themselves - is just a different path, and not necessarily a bad one. I personally could never have been happy with it, but "different strokes for different folks", right?

    2. Yes, different strokes. If only the "slow and steady" method was equally recognized . . .

    3. Lea, your advice
      "I think it is a good thing that singles are staying single longer. This generation is maturing at a much slower rate than previous ones, and it is better that they get to know themselves first before marrying."

      is dead wrong. I would venture to say you are just rationilizing for your own sake, and seeking support for it by publicizing it. I am sorry to put it that bluntly.

      I write as a father - of children who are "maturing at a much slower rate". That may well be true but your conclusion does not follow. Why? Because "maturity", whatever that means, does not have to be acquired at the expense of a normal, married lifestyle. The learning you speak about, spiritual growth, can happen during marriage, and, in fact, can better happen, during marriage.

      The young person has a physical component that has little relation with his spiritual endowments. He or she will experience "heat" after 20, or so. Yet, your advice is to sit on that heat, and grow. It is hard for that to happen unless the heat component is given relief.

      The Torah is that which makes my point - not me. Yes, we do not understand the facts that seem to throw monkeywrenches into the works, as the fact that Rivkah was but 3 when she married Yitzchok, or perhaps other such facts, but Pirkei Avot tells us clearly teh wisdom of our sages - "18 for marriage".

      Do you want to counter that wisdom with your own? I doubt it. That you have passed that milestone does not of course mean anything significant, but it is significant to postulate a feature of a collective body based on your own presumptions and then come out with something against what our sages, and Judaism for ages, felt was correct.

      Again, I hold nothing against those who marry "late". Yours truly did so when he was 46! My only point here is to help readers that are "maturing at a much slower rate" to know right from wrong.

      One other point, if I'm already on my psychology tour. You claim that with time you can get to "know yourself" better before marrying. First of all, you already know yourself as well as you'll ever know yourself, whatever that means. But know that the real self-knowledge comes ONLY WITH THE HELP OF YOUR עזר כנגדו! Only THEN will you have to take yourself into consideration because only then can you be tested for your real values and "maturity"!

      May you, and all Jewish singles, find their worthy life-mates in short time and succeed in making big, happy Jewish families!

  2. My problem is that it is bad statistics explained poorly (I do have an educational background in statistics).
    Problem 1: It assumes an exponential growth yearly in the community
    Problem 2: What is the percentage of unmarried men at those ages?
    Problem 3: it may describe numbers but does not explain cause (assuming their numbers are actually correct
    Problem 4: The solution proposed (that young women start dating later or young men start dating earlier)is that it is almost a socialist way of doing things; people should date others based on the appropriateness of the other regardless of age. Not coerced to date someone who may not be good for them.
    Problem 5: The solution does not address the behaviors in the Shidduch situation
    Let me give a basic example:
    Lets say according to them there are 100 guys and 130 girls. On motsa shabbos # 1, 100 guys go out 100 girls go out, 30 girls stay home
    Now lets assume that nothing happens and the next week 100 guys and girls go out and 30 girls stay home (and nobody drops out of the market). Eventually, every single girl by week 4 or 5 should be getting a date
    Except that many girls sit home for weeks or months on end. Realistically what happens is that about 75 girls would get dates every week, 25 get every other week, 20 get a date once a month, an 10 never get dates.
    My theory is that a more realistic way of explaining behavior (since thats what psychologists and economists do)is that people assume that they (or their child) is a worthy commodity but have a unrealistic assumption of how worthy they are (kind of like the statistic that 80% or drivers believe they are better than 50% of all drivers; 80% cannot be more than 50%)which is known as the halo effect.

    So if you were to ask a group of mothers (who do the research on the girls) what percentile would you rank your son in Lakewood/NIRC/YU/CC/Landers etc, i would assume that most would answer above the 50th. The same would be true about young women.

    In other words, game theory would explain it alot more. you have a people who overestimate their value, driving up their own value unrealistically thus essentially creating people who will not go out ever with the average. So getting back to our 100:130 ratio; in a normal distribution everyone should get dates if they were to realistically value themselves. So if more people overrate their own value, they are less likely to go out with someone of their own value since they are biased toward themselves and not toward others (a real 50 thinks he's really a 70 and won't date other real 50's; while real 70's won't normally date a real 50 like the guy in this example)
    In other words, the market being in a 'crisis' rewards guys who overrate themselves. (I tend to think that guys made up the crisis to marry 'up')

    Sorry for the rant: bad statistics explained poorly drives me nuts!

    1. The statistics didn't look right to me, either, but as I do NOT have a background in statistics (I stayed faaaaar away from that stuff in college) I wasn't about to get into it. Thanks for doing it for me. :)

  3. Education background in statistics. PSHT!!!

    Thats like an education background in Eskimo


    I'll show myself out.

  4. I also laughed at the video. Content gives it a C+, but presentation gives it an F.

    A few letters taken, a few letters added and we'd have travesty, which is what that video was.