A recent news article has angered me. You can read a copy of the Associated Press story on CNN’s Web site. The article, entitled “Would-be bride woos suitors with Web auction,” describes how Kay Hammond of England auctioned herself off for marriage over the Internet, claiming she was too busy to find a date. Two men have cast bids of £250,000 ($350,000) and Hammond will marry one of them after an initial meeting. In addition to the bids, Hammond has also sold her story to a newspaper and her publicists have fielded inquiries from television producers. As you will read in the CNN article, she is attempting to, she claims, “prove that the Internet is not full of cyber-geeks, there are normal people out there.”
First, let me debunk the weaker of her reasons for doing this. With tens of millions of people now online everyday and the Internet now being so much a part of so many people’s daily lives, it long ago passed the point of being “full of cyber-geeks.” Guess what, Kay; the normal people have been on the Internet for at least a couple of years now. Everyone from young kids to the elderly are now on the Internet. Corporate executives, doctors, art professors, bus drivers, plumbers, and even some homeless people using public libraries are now on the Internet. If you weren’t in such a rush sell yourself to the highest bidder, perhaps you could have gotten to know some very interesting people ranging from normal, to geeky, to outright hip. Every day I meet people who use the Internet regularly, but don’t have the slightest geeky clue about how the damned thing works.
Now, why has Kay Hammond’s marriage auction really pissed me off so much? While many people may recognize right away that it actually cheapens love, courtship, and marriage, it angers me because I found real love and pursued real courtship on the Internet and am now a few short months away from marrying my fiancée, who I met online six years ago. We have shared our lives and our home everyday for the last five years. In May, we will publicly affirm our love for one another not through an exchange of money or equity, but in a ceremony we are both writing from our hearts to say in our own words how we feel about one another.
I know what real love is. It has nothing to do with financial transactions. It has to do with being willing to learn from someone else, rather than to earn from someone else. It has to do with growing with someone else, rather than growing your bank account. It has to do with giving someone your time for long, meaningful conversations; giving them the time to sit by their bedside when they are sick; giving them time to go on vacations with them; giving them the time to sit down and share a meal with them — heck even giving them your time to cook them a meal. If Kay Hammond does not have the time for a date and is not willing to take or make the time for it, she does not have the time for a real marriage, let alone loving relationship.
I have some advice for Kay, if she is mature enough to listen: Kay, you will eventually discover that life is not as short as everyone tells you it is. Life is long, very long. At the age of 24, you have plenty of time to go on a date, if you can learn how to spend your time, instead of someone else’s money. Think for a moment about how much has probably already happened to you in even the last five years or the last ten years. If you sat down to write up everything that you have done, even a page a day, you would soon realize that a lot happens in what seems like a little time. Now imagine living another sixty years, which you stand a good statistical chance of doing. You have plenty of time, you’re just being impatient, making excuses, seeking instant gratification, being greedy, and apparently so desperately hungry for attention that you have taken the shallow way out to get it through the media, instead of an emotionally, mentally, and spiritually intimate relationship.
If this is the approach Kay Hammond takes to getting married, I hope that she does not take the same approach to having children — cheating them of loving, caring time and instead raising them with the shallow value that money is far more important than love. The world does not need more people who are both so greedy for money and so greedy for attention that they accept money and attention as substitutes for love.
As for the two, seemingly equally desperate men who have cast such high bids, I have only two words of advice: Caveat Emptor!