February 26, 2004
Love in the Age of the Bachelorette
Kevin Drum and Robin were both philosophizing today about The Bachelorette and illusions of attachment. Robin, apparently, was taken in by the show; he believed for a few moments that there was real devotion forming. Then, one of the Bachelorette’s suitors proposed, and the thing was so insincere and hammy that the facade was shattered.
I actually think that real emotion does happen on these shows. I really believe that the contestants or whatever you call them feel “in love” by the end of it. Their version of “in love” is strange, synthetic, and fleeting, but it’s not imaginary. I would argue that the same thing happened in high school when I went away for a week or two for special programs and retreats and whatnot. I’ll never forget the NYLC in Washington, D.C., specifically, although this happened in micro all throughout high school.
A few hundred students attended the National Young Leaders Conference, but they split us up into groups of 20 or so for the week. We had field trips and learned about democracy and crafted bills and elected people and whatnot. By the end of the week, we were Frnds4Evr. This group of 20 people was just the tightest, most amazing, most meant-for-each-other group of buddies the world had ever seen, and these relationships would never die.
Eight years after that week was over, I still remember Katie Sparnecht, and dancing with Pat Germann on the last night, and quietly wanting this Polish guy Dave Swaintek, who was not-so-quietly hooking up with this girl Ashley. I remember Mormon Will, and my soft-spoken friend Mike. I knew these folks for (I think) nine days. There was enough genuine attachment there that vivid pictures of these folks are stuck in my minds. But the friendships were strange, synthetic, and fleeting.
Hasn’t that ever happened to you?