SingularCity founder Kim Calvert is interviewed about how Singular magazine and its singles network hope to redefine what it means to be single in Los Angeles and in the world.
In September 2008, single people in Los Angeles, some 70,000 of them, opened their mailboxes to discover a thick, glossy, oversized magazine called Singular, full of beautiful photographs, interesting stories from top writers and a claim that along with its social networking website, SingularCity, the magazine would bring a fresh new view of what it means to be single to Los Angeles.
Since then, the magazine has moved online, saving a carbon footprint the size of Kansas and making it possible to reach a new audience outside of its native city.
Kim Calvert, who founded the multi award-winning magazine and website, was interviewed recently about Singular magazine and SingularCity — clarifying what it’s all about and why Singular’s message — to celebrate and enjoy the single life — is so important in today’s world, especially as single people emerge as the new majority.
Tell us about your website and the magazine. What is its philosophy?
The singularcity.com website was launched in September 2008 as the companion to our glossy print magazine, Singular. The magazine was the flagship and set the tone to rebrand the entire concept of “being single” — one that defies the old, negative stereotypes and provides an alternative voice to the traditional singles industry that tells us there’s something wrong with being single and that we’re supposed to “fix it”— that is, fix ourselves — as soon as possible.
We wanted to portray single people as they really are: normal people who happen to be doing life on their own, rather than in partnership with someone. The website, SingularCity, is the affiliated social networking component.
What made you want to start it?
I had my own epiphany about being single. I’d been single for a long time (I was married for three years when I was in my 30s) and I became aware of how singles are discriminated against and how we often judge ourselves negatively because we buy into the old idea that married is good, single is bad, without questioning the validity of that.
Single people can be their own worst enemy in that regard. I wanted to change that view because I believe your life will follow your thoughts. If you perceive yourself as “less than” you will be “less than,” and too many of my single friends were judging themselves in a negative way simply because they weren’t married. Too many of us were not reaching our full potential and enjoying our lives the way we should because we were buying into out-moded, self-limiting ideas about what it means to be single.
Is Singular magazine saying people should want to be alone? Is that your philosophy?
Absolutely not! That’s one of the big myths. Being single does not mean being alone. In fact, it means you’re available to have a bigger social network because you are not focusing just on your significant other.
There are some great perks to being single too — freedom, independence and no need to compromise. It’s a great state to be in if you’re starting a business or taking some kind of career risk, because you’re not responsible for holding down the fort for another person.
And of course, there are challenges too because you are the one responsible for everything — from paying the bills to cleaning out the cat box. Plus there’s no denying that we live in a society that pressures us to get married. Singular magazine and SingularCity offer support and ideas on how to cope with all of that successfully.
Who can join the social network at SingularCity?
Anyone who requests an invitation will be considered for membership — but the social networking component is really for anyone who is legally single — for example, if you check the box “single” on your income tax return, you qualify.
Can you explain a bit more about how you define single?
I define single as anyone who is unmarried — which is different from the generally accepted idea that single means you’re not currently dating someone exclusively. I see being single as so much more than whether or not you have a regular dating partner. It changes how you are perceived by the government, how you are treated under laws, even how much you pay for car insurance.
A lot of people don’t realize this, but there is a cultural and institutional bias against people who are unmarried, and single people really need to stand together to confront and deal with that — not just say, “I’m in a relationship,” and hide their heads in the sand about the fact that they are, in fact, single.
You often use the word “singular” instead of the word “single.” Why is that?
Since so many people have a negative reaction to the word “single” and “singles” we came up with the term “singular” to define today’s modern single person who is self-aware, self-confident and refuses to buy into those outdated ideas about being single. Our readers may or may not have a romantic interest in their life, but for sure, their relationship status does not define who they are and what they are about.
There are a lot of unmarried people who aren’t there yet, but we welcome them and offer them an opportunity to re-think their self-image in a more positive way. When you feel you are surrounded by others who are going through the same process of evolving and growing, it helps. We offer group support and role models to look to. It takes practice, but you really can change how you perceive yourself and how you define being single.
The truth is, being single is an amazing opportunity for self-discovery and self-growth. If you embark on a path of positive self-awareness as a single person, you’ll be amazed how you will be transformed in a positive way. That’s a lot of what Singular magazine, SingularCity and our activities and events are about.
Have you learned things from your members? Any surprises?
Single people are a very diverse group — rich and poor, educated and not so educated, young and old — but the one thing we share is that we live in a world where we are still judged in a negative way simply because we are not married. How single people react to that varies, and depends on where they are in their singular journey.
I feel like a cultural anthropologist sometimes; it’s very interesting. I think women tend to be more comfortable being single, they’re more social, like the idea of making new friends — they’re not so hook-up orientated as men often are. But a lot of that is a result of the online dating industry, which I think has had a detrimental impact on how men and women meet and relate to each other.
Do you think members of SingularCity will pair off into romantic couples? Is that the point? Do you discourage member dating?
People have paired off and if that happens, great. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too. Some of our members are in dating mode, some join to make friends, to share special interests and hobbies, some are there for business networking — it really is a virtual city — a community made up of a dynamic and diverse group of men and women who are unmarried. If a romantic spark happens, it happens organically, not in the forced way you find on matchmaking websites.
So I certainly do not discourage dating. In fact, I think SingularCity is a more relaxed and healthy way to meet people who might evolve into romantic connections. You become friends first — it’s actually old school in that respect. It’s like back in the day when your friends introduced you to people and if something clicked on a romantic level, it happened without the pressure you experience with online dating and “Are you the ONE?” Not? Next!”
What else would you say, especially to a divorced crowd?
Take the time to discover yourself as a single person. I see so many recently divorced people who are trying to find a new spouse as quickly as possible, dating like crazy, trying so hard to get “into a relationship.” Breathe, relax and learn to enjoy peaceful solitude while also expanding your friendship portfolio.
Find peace within yourself, that calm quiet place where you finally realize that you are complete as a party of one. You are not half of a whole. Rebuild yourself, rediscover yourself, take the time to heal and become all you were meant to be as an individual.
If you let it, being single can be the greatest adventure of your life.
Copyright © 2012 Singular Communications, LLC.