whack charts

This Facebook Marriage-Age Chart Means Basically Nothing

Photo: George Doyle/Getty Images

Yesterday, Time posted a Facebook app that purports to “predict your perfect marriage date” by charting the median age at which your friends got married. They loosely connected this chart to Valentine’s Day, which is helpful, because I bet that you, reader of posts about dating on the Internet, did not already know that Valentine’s Day was coming up. After you let the app have access to your Facebook information, it organizes your friends’ ages and marital (or civil union) statuses in a bar graph, thereby telling you “when it might be time for you to take the plunge.”

“Is it time I got married?” asks the app: It’s an irresistible opportunity to check in and affirm that you are a normal member of your peer group. This marriage normalcy chart informed me that — by just one month and four days — I have missed my “target date.” Oh no! And what would it mean if you and your beloved plunged before the appointed time? What would this chart tell you? “TAKE IT BACK. You have overshot your target. RETURN HIM IMMEDIATELY TO THE NEAREST RETAILER.”

Hold up, though: This chart is misleading. While it lists how many of your friends are married above the bar graph, it doesn’t take that figure (or its size relative to your overall friend group) into account when calculating the median age to get married. It’s just giving you the median age of marriage for married people. If 98 percent of your friends aren’t married (that’s the percentage of my friends who are unwed; hey, guys), it will still calculate a date for you to “take the plunge” based on the 2 percent who are married. So basically this chart tells you nothing. Unless it can predict the future, in which people you know continue to not marry or marry (or divorce and remarry), this thing is bogus, yes? It should be tossed out a window of your bachelorette pad, or your home of wedded bliss, or wherever it is that you live in sin.

Time Cannot Predict Your Proper Marriage Date