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On Shippers and Shipping - Part Five

IEmbargo December 17, 2013 User blog:IEmbargo

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Final Thoughts

As a general philosophical belief, I do not like shipping because it implies that two characters are "meant to be" together.  I believe the series does an immense disservice to its fans for promulgating a point of view that I think is malarkey - especially for younger viewers.  Let us look at some real-life numbers.

Based on a meta-analysis of the 2000 US census published in the American Journal of Statistics from 2008, approximately 75% of high schoolers are in steady or semi-steady relationships by the end of their senior year.  But only about 1 out of 7 of those actually result in a marriage.  Within 2 years, half of them are divorced.  Within 10 years, 1 out of 7 marriages did not divorce.  That means that under 2% of all high school relationships result in a marriage that lasts over 10 years.  That's not "meant to be."

The same analysis shows that collegiates do somewhat better: About 90% of college grads are dating or married by the time of graduation of their terminal degree.  Approximately 2 out of 3 of those result in a marriage, and about half of those last more than 10 years.  That means that only 1/3 of all college relationships last more than 10 years.  That's not "meant to be" either.

And, to put a tin hat on it, a paper from 1990 on human courtship behaviour that was published in the Journal of Applied Probability posited that up to 85% of all attempts at "coupling up" fail outright.  (The authors' analyses modelled the system resulting in "coupling up" as a Markov Process, but that is not relevant here.)

Any series that presents a young couple in any fashion outside of these norms is doing its viewers as much a disservice as the old "Star Trek" series did for me: they presented characters without emotions or who controlled their emotions by sheer will power who were still well-adjusted with society.  Because of this, my peers and I often had - at best - stunted emotional growth well into adulthood.  We make the "geeks as blackface" guys on "The Big Bang Theory" look like normal people.  Honest.  Similarly, IMHO, a show that presents ships as anything other than transitory or requiring a lot of work is lying to the audience and hurts the fans emotionally.  Conversely, honest relationships are hard work and typically don't work.

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