Link Roundup: Happy Marriage?; Telecommuting; How to Shop IRL

Scrooge1) Thanks for the cheerful morning read on how most of us will not end up happily married, Quartz!

Just as most Americans want to believe that they will get rich someday, most Americans want to think that they will have a marriage of far-above-average quality. … What we do tell people is that happy couples are really no different from unhappy couples. Either they have found some secret formula for happiness (and if you buy the right book/attend the right seminar/take the right product, you will be happy too!), or they have learned to lower their expectations to the point where they don’t feel the sting of disappointment from incompatibility, loneliness, sexlessness or boredom. The first case is akin to Senator Marco Rubio testifying that America is “a nation of haves and soon to haves.” It is theoretically possible for any single individual to become wealthy, but it is unlikely that we are all going to be rich anytime soon. The second is like saying that rich people don’t have more money than poor people, just a better attitude. 

This is not a well written article. (“There are many theories floating around about why greater gender equality have not put an end to divorce in America.”) Does that mean the thesis is wrong? I hope so. The dream of being contently coupled should be more accessible than the dream of being Scrooge McDuck. There is, after all, an infinite amount of happiness in the world, and only a finite number of gold coins.

2) Women and childless men, don’t ask to work remotely

[Sociologist Christin] Munsch had 646 people read a transcript of a fake phone conversation between an employee and a human-resources representative. The employees asked to alter their schedules for a period of six months, requesting either to work from home two days per week or to come in early and leave early three days per week. Perhaps unsurprisingly—given what we know about women and likability—this went over better when the worker was a man. … 

The reasons for the “flextime” and “flexplace” requests varied. In some cases, the workers said they wanted the afternoons to “take care of my daughter after school.” Others, though, said they wanted to leave early to “train for the California Classic Cycling Challenge,” or to work from home so they could “lessen my impact on the environment.” It turns out that both men and women whose reason for the request was childcare-related, as opposed to either exercise- or environment-related, were more supported in their requests, more respected, and seen as marginally more committed to their work and worthier of promotions. … The effect was especially pronounced for men. The women were judged similarly regardless of the reason they gave for working from home. Meanwhile, the subjects were significantly more likely to approve of the men who were motivated by family obligations rather than personal issues.

Let’s go work in tech! Companies like Google and Reddit (?!) offer the best paid parental leave policies, and they’re probably all about Classic Cycling Challenges too.

3) Has Internet shopping ruined us for actual shopping?

Barnes & Noble lumps almost everything that isn’t YA, romance, crime (I think), or sci-fi/fantasy into the same category of “fiction.” That includes literary fiction, chick-fic and dude-fic, fiction in translation, classics, small press and indie fiction, and a bunch of other subgenres, all mashed up together under one heading, in alphabetical order.

I CANNOT SHOP THIS WAY YOU GUYS.

Maybe I’ve been ridiculously spoiled by the bookternet, but unless I have a specific title that I’m gunning for (and it happens to be a title that Barnes & Noble carries, which usually isn’t the case when I want a specific title), I find it impossible to even know where to start. I’ve gotten so spoiled on being able to filter and sort, search by subgenre or literary school, or “related” authors/ topics/styles, that when faced with a broad sampling of current and classic literature that isn’t otherwise arranged or organized, my brain short-circuits. I end up wandering aimlessly and slightly panicked through aisle after aisle without really taking in what I’m looking at.

FWIW, my strategy is to either a) check my Goodreads To-Read list, or b) pick a letter, like W, and zero in on those authors. Even if it turns out you weren’t looking for something by West, Wilde, or Woolf (and why aren’t you?) it might calm you down enough to remember what you were actually in search of.

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