Valentine’s Day. What a day. For a lot of people this day will be one of celebration, a day to celebrate their affection for their girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife – an all-round good day. However, for others this day is one of truly black depression; on no other day of the year does one’s seemingly endless loneliness appear to be more apparent. So all in all, as days go, it is a mixed bag. I am single, but I would appreciate if we could put all that to one side for now. I do, in fact, have something serious to say.
I do not hate Valentine’s Day – except for the last one, I have spent most of them in the traditional singleton fashion of crying into my Ben & Jerry’s whilst watching some rom-com and continuously questioning “Why me?” However, I do not resent the sentiment of the day; rather, I resent the presentation.
We increasingly live in a society where things are commodified. Valentine’s Day seems to demonstrate how far that has gone – if there is any day that shows how we have commodified emotions it is Valentine’s Day. I think we need to realise what is important. It’s great if you are lucky enough to have someone to buy you twenty red roses, but remember this is just a symbol of affection, and the act itself does not have any substance. With the rise of social media, we are constantly encouraged to put things in boxes, and to label things, but these acts just symbolise things that have no value.
I think going for a meal with your partner is great! But money is money, and love is love. It seems that in our neoliberal consumer capitalist society we forget this all too often. When celebrating your love for someone would it not be nice to make them your own card or cook them dinner yourself? Of course, many people do this, but we need to remember why this is so important – we often say ‘it’s the thought that counts’ but do we really understand what that means?
Love is a beautiful thing, and no amount of material goods can ever fully represent it. We need to understand that there are some things in this world that are not reducible to purchasable commodities. When looking at the shops filling up with pink and red cards, boxes of chocolates and roses, I cannot help but feel as if many of us go through the motions without realising the significance of the content rather than the action.
Valentine’s Day should be a day when we can celebrate the distinctness of our human emotions, and remember that our experience is different from everyone else’s. If you buy someone a card or flower make sure that it is a true expression of your love – not some words put into your mouth by some card writer. We need to remember the importance of humanity – you are more than your relationship status on Facebook, and your shared intimate relationship cannot be represented so simply.
So I urge you this Valentine’s Day to celebrate your love for your partner in your own way: do not just go through the motions, do not just send a card just because you think it is the right thing to do, and remember that affection is in the content not the action.