Basically, shipping is wishing. As in, wishing for certain two people (fictional or not) to become a couple in a romantic relationship. So it's a step below active matchmaking. More like passive matchmaking, or wishful matchmaking(?).
The word is usually used in a "fandom" context, which is the general term for the fanatic fan bases of fictional works. Yes, I just described "fans" as "fanatic".
Apparently, I'm the President of the CP Matchmakers Club, by the Founder of the Club, C_____ Thompson (first name removed to protect identity). So I have a lot of expertise regarding this. I did bring a couple into a long term relationship. (But really, that was more of things working out rather than I having some invisible hand in it, I think. Meh. I'll take credit for it).
My friend here, She-Who-Doesn't-Want-To-Be-Named, points out that shipping friends is, well, awkward.
Especially when you are at the receiving end. There goes "So-and-So with So-and-So", and so on. Thing is, people, even our best friends, don't know their own friends that well. Or they are just bad at judging.
Or maybe, the friends don't know who they are shipping you with. They may know you, but they don't know the other person well enough. At least, you know things they don't know. It can range from superficial differences to deep rooted doctrinal belief systems.
Or maybe they do know their friends well, but the "opposites attract" principle actually applies to the people you like. I get tired of people pairing me with short girls, or girls with glasses, or girls with dark hair, or fill in the blank. Just because I am one way doesn't mean I want my future mate to be like that!
Gianna Jensen, an abortion survivor and pro life activist with cerebral palsy, sums it up well. I heard her say the following at the home school convention in Cincinnati. She may be a survivor, but she is a victim of shipping.
My friends would always tell me that they found a great guy for me. He's smart, handsome, etc. whatever.
And the clincher.... he also has cerebral palsy. (Gianna makes a distraught face)
Just because someone is going through the same thing as us doesn't mean we want our future spouse to be going through such things. Maybe we want them to have already overcome those things. Or not have to worry about them. Or we just prefer not to be reminded about ourselves and our shortcomings.
Also, just because a pair are really good friends does not mean they will make a great, or even a good couple. Friends at work, friends at church, or anywhere. They may make a good time, but in the end, you don't want to spend the rest of your life with them. Having romantic notion will kill some friendships. There is a good reason for friendzones. Sometimes, they are just there to preserve that relationship. Personally, I keep girls I like to an acquaintance level before dating them. I do not want to be close friends with them. I will not date any girls that are close friends with me, currently. If I consider you my sister, or something, I definitely will not date you.
It's also coupled by the fact that really good friends sometimes fall for the ones you do like, because they see that person perfect for them, not you. Many a rivalry have been started between friends because of love triangles, simply because the friends were so alike. It makes me sad, bu also, I've experienced friends fall for girls I like enough that I don't have that many close friends who are of the same gender.
It boils down that there are a lot of factors one must consider for that perfect pairing, not only in paper, but naturally, as well. What looks good in theory, will not always work in practice. I guess that's where dating comes in.
I do wish someone would accurately ship me with people I do like. Haha. ;) Also, if I do not recoil from your ship of me and another person, she might have a chance! XD Usually, it would be a person I have not met yet that I would give a chance.
In the end, some of my ships have been wrong. Shipwrecked, as one would say. But looking at the couples today and how happy they are, I'm glad I was wrong. Still, I have a reputation for matchmaking, so... all hands on deck!
To conclude, here are some of my "ships":
Artemis Fowl series: Artemis Fowl and Minerva. I think an Artemis/Holly pairing is way too mainstream.
The 10th Doctor and Madame Pompadour. I love Girl in the Fireplace! There is no reason for the Tenth to simply time travel back to take her again to be a companion.
The 10th Doctor and Astrid. If not Madame Pompadour, Astrid is my second ship for the Tenth Doctor.
The 11th Doctor and River. This is canon and OTP (One True Pairing). (I had to look that acronym up, too)
Sherlock (BBC): Sherlock and Molly, hands down.
ACE (Accelerated Christian Education) comic strips: Ace and Christi, of course! Stop being so platonic! (Granted, I don't know anything that happens after the 6th grade PACES)
Real-Life: Initials only for privacy, but you can guess. Ask me privately, and I'll confirm if you are right. There's a mix of church friends, college friends, online friends....
D M and L M.
M S and C M.
J M and A T.
L G and B P.
H S and J G.
E K and R M.
A S and J G.
B P and P K.
J G and T H.
A Y and B J.
Will edit as I think of them.