"Polyamory is Boring" as, in some places, it becomes normal
If this guy has 208 responses to his philosophy-blog article "Polyamory is Boring," he has a larger and more engaged readership than a lot of so-called real media, so he's worth noting here.1 Especially for the quality of this piece — its writing, its interesting ideas — and for what it says about poly in Millennial culture these days, at least in intellectual college towns. Samples:
Polyamory Is Boring
By Scott Alexander [slightly fake name]
(Trigger warning: people in happy loving relationships.)
I explained polyamory to my father last week when we met in Utah. He just shrugged and said “I guess I’m too old-fashioned for that sort of thing to make sense.”
I feel blessed to have a father with the rare skill of being able to generate “I am old-fashioned” as a counter-hypothesis to “other people are evil”. But more than that, I sympathize with his response. I sympathize with it because it was exactly my response when Alicorn told me about polyamory two years ago or so.... For a twenty-eight year old, I am really good at sighing and saying “Kids these days!” in a despairing tone, and that was about my response to the whole polyamory concept.
And now seven months after moving to Berkeley I’m dating three people.
What changed? It just started seeming normal.... Imagine a space-time rift brings a 19th-century Know-Nothing to your doorstep. He starts debating you on the relative merits and costs of allowing Irish people to mix with the rest of American society. And you have a hard time even getting the energy to debate him. You’re like “Yeah, there are some Irish people around. I think my boss might be half-Irish or something, although I’m not sure. So what?” And he just sputters “But…but…Irish people!"... And not only do you not think that Irish people are a Big Deal, but you’re about 99% sure that after the Know-Nothing spends a couple of months in 21st-century America he’s going forget about the whole Irish thing too....
This was my experience with poly people upon moving to Berkeley. Alicorn makes a big deal about poly-hacking and having to valiantly overcome some sort of strong natural tendency to switch from monogamous to polyamorous relationships. This wasn’t really my experience at all. It just seemed like once the entire culture was no longer uniting to tell me polyamory was something bizarre and different and special, it wasn’t. And then it started to look like a slightly better idea to take part in it than to not take part in it. So I did.... Alicorn and Mike are probably the best couple I have ever seen. I have lived with them for seven months now....
...The other thing people always bring up is the jealousy issue. I feel like the correct, responsible thing to say at this point would be “Yes, of course everyone experiences jealousy, and it’s hard for the first few months or years, but eventually you just learn to live with it and the sacrifice is worth it.”
But the responsible answer is wrong, and the incredulous-stare answer is right. At least in my very limited experience, jealousy is a paper tiger, sort of the post-9/11 al-Qaeda of emotional states....
...This is not meant as a sociological or political claim that polyamory is good or even harmless. The community here in Berkeley is several standard deviations away from the mean on practically every dimension, not to mention that they’re a highly self-selected group.
It is easy to imagine that if “bad people” got a hold of polyamory, they could mess it up.... I don’t know if [its] social costs are useful in preserving it [only] for people who would probably use it for good, or whether it is just an unalloyed good that everyone should switch to right away. The latter seems to match my experiences better, but the former seems to match the observation that things usually go wrong in unexpected ways. Still, the former (good for the people who use it, even if not necessarily a good thing to remove the barriers to wider adoption) seems like a floor to how bad it could possibly be.
Read the whole article; there's much more (April 6, 2013).
1. Also, I'm envious. I'm getting an average of only 2 comments per post here despite an average of about 2,200 reads per post. What's wrong with you guys?