Contrary to what romantic comedies would have us believe, Valentine’s Day isn’t all that great. It’s actually like one of those fancy clubs with a strict dress code and an expensive cover – the idea of it is way better than the actual thing. Sure Fetty Wap and Scott Disick rolled through last weekend but the music sucks, the people suck, and you’re constantly being reminded that you’re not important enough to be standing where you are. Despite it never being any fun, you keep coming back, telling yourself that will it get better.
But time and time again, you end up spending your night the same way: swaying to the music like a jaded stripper, on the fruitless 6 p.m. shift hoping that someone will eventually acknowledge your existence. Apparently no one else seems to mind the $15 drinks and the mind numbing techno beat that’s been interwoven into every song. The long line and hot bartender complete the purposely exclusive effect of the dump, and fuel that insecure-twitter-obsessed gremlin on your shoulder who eggs you on with whispers of: hey, this place is exclusive. This place is awesome. This place is absolutely not a waste of your limited time on this earth. So you go along with the charade because not doing so would make you look like a fucking weirdo or Drake circa his “Marvin’s Room” sad boy days.
Valentine’s Day is similarly structured and similarly pointless and as of no, there are only two camps that you can celebrate it with: the “annoying couples on Facebook” and the “quirky anti-valentiners”.
The “annoying couples on Facebook” are there to make you feel shitty about being single. They take Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to show the world just how in love they really are, and how much you’re missing out. They’re more into looking like they’re in love than actually being in love. They’re the type of couple that thinks a darkly lit restaurant with only five tables in it and a 45-minute wait is fancy, just because it’s partially owned by Ryan Gosling. They celebrate Valentine’s Day for the Facebook and Instagram likes because their relationship has recently gone stale and their unsure of what to do now that everyone has stopped paying attention to them. Their date nights are spent either on their phones or asking strangers to take pictures of them, with said phones, because their bond is as superficial as it is fragile. You know that timeless philosophical question: “If a tree falls in a forest and nobody’s around to hear it, does it make sound?” Well if their relationship is the falling tree, the answer is: it didn’t make a fucking whisper.
Sir Isaac Newton once said that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”. That is how the “quirky anti-valentiners” operate in relation to the “annoying Facebook couples”. They are two of sides of the same annoying-ass coin. “Quirky anti-valentiners” are the “annoying Facebook couples” main target audience, because they’re the only ones dumb enough to find pictures of couples hiking cute. They’re just as bad as those Facebook couples because they take Valentine’s Day just as seriously. They love posting about quirky stuff like cats and Harry Potter trivia. They find “That moment when…” vines hilarious. They love terribly written listicles entitled “22 ways you know that you’re dating an introverted extrovert” – which by the way, doesn’t even make sense. They’re not in a relationship, they love Gilmore Girls, and the only that they can communicate any of this is, is also through BuzzFeed lists. They’re the ones who talk about their wine drinking as if it’s an actual vice. They #relationshipgoals, but not ironically. The only difference between them and the annoying Facebook couples is that at the moment, they are in-between one of their sub-par and similarly doomed relationships.
Both groups fail to see Valentine’s Day for what it really is – the monetization and exploitation of real human sentiment for profit. There’s a reason that every romantic comedy and Love Actually rip-off comes out around this time of the year. It’s not an accident that jewelry sales go up 200% either. People are barraged with a constant stream of media and convinced that one item or another is fundamental to the celebration of their special day. “They” (Not a DJ Khaled “they,” but more of a Superfly “The Man”) use culture tradition to sling their worthless shit. Flowers and chocolates and diamonds have no inherent value to them, but we’ve been, for lack of a better word: indoctrinated into associating these things with “love,” which is obviously preposterous.
That being said, it’s not our fault that we’ve come to associate love with something as trivial as Valentine’s Day. This type of cultural hypnosis is more common than you would think. “Black History Month and Women’s History Month” are by definition, only a month long, which begs the question: what is history the rest of the time? You would think that these things are important enough to be incorporated into daily life outside of the month of February, but apparently not.
Systematic oppression aside, in the social media era, where images rule our world, sharing and accessibility are everything and that means that an idea that can’t be expressed in 140 characters or less doesn’t really exist. Our image-driven media has given way to corollary marketing. Meaning that, with our eyes peeled, Clockwork Orange-style, we’ve been bombarded with constant seasonal sales and celebrity endorsements that train us to associate everything we like with shit that we don’t really need. “LeBron wins-LeBron wears beats-I wear beats-I win.”
In psychology this phenomenon is known as “conditioning.” In Pavlov’s famous conditioning experiments, he found that his dog subjects began to salivate not only when meat was presented to them, but also more significantly, when the person feeding them came into proximity with them. It turns out that the dogs had been inadvertently trained to associate the person feeding them with the food itself, and therefore reacted in a similar way to the feeders. It’s the same train of logic that leads parents to yell at children when they misbehave. The child learns to associate bad behavior with the punishment and is then discouraged to misbehave in the future. If you think that I’m comparing people to bags of salivating meat like dogs, that’s exactly what I am doing.
Christmas, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, etc. – how do we actually celebrate holidays? Do we associate them with their sentiments or do we associate them with their paraphernalia? Not to be repetitive but Coca-Cola created our modern-day Santa Claus, and nowhere in the bible does it say anything about Christmas trees.
Valentine’s Day is an especially clear example of conditioning because it so obviously has nothing to do with what it’s supposed to be celebrating. When it comes to Christmas, one could point out the irony in people spending 80% of their time away from the people they love, doing a job they don’t like, to buy shit that they don’t need, for the family that they don’t see, because they’re doing a job they don’t like, to earn money for shit that they don’t actually want in the first place. However, that’s beside the point. In this system, people need to work to live and that’s that. So one could say The Holidays are a good thing because they offer a quick reprieve from all of that slavery work.
Valentine’s Day is a made up space for people to act as if they’re in love. For couples that are actually in love, every single day is basically Valentine’s Day. They go on dates and pretend to like each other’s friends, do all of those other countless little things that make love, love. So single or taken, I encourage you to avoid the typical Valentine’s Day fuckery like its TIDAL and do this instead:
Obviously there are going to be some awesome drink specials that night so you would be a fool not to take advantage of them. If you’re single, so what if all of your close friends are with their significant others, text that girl or guy you’ve been meaning to ask out and just go for it.
If BuzzFeed is any evidence, quirky, single, anti-Valentine’s day celebrations are all the rave now. A night spent masturbating and stalking your ex on Facebook could be spent getting to know someone new. That being said, whatever you do, do not pay for their drinks – you’re not dating, you’re single (as fuck).
If you aren’t single, move your date night away from that stuffy faux French restaurant with the set menu and over to your sad neighborhood bar with all of the middle-aged alcoholics. The drinks are strong and nothing will reinforce the sanctity of your relationship more than the sight of old men drunkenly singing to Journey.
If you’re one of those unhappy single people, go take a look at yourself in the mirror and slap yourself-in face, really, really hard. Yeah you’re alone on Valentine’s Day, but you’re alone most of the time anyways, so don’t be upset. Think about it, you could be hiking or brunching, or if the relationship has really gone bad – your girlfriend could be throwing a champagne bottle at your face or instagramming an anonymous love poem you sent her with the caption “Who sent me this?!”
Being single isn’t about going out every weekend and trying your hardest to catch gonorrhea, it’s about taking care of yourself – the same way you would for another person. Remember how your livelihood depended on that one person? Do you remember how much time you spent imagining new ways to impress them? Don’t let those sappy commercials and movies get to you, they are just trying to get you to spend money on shit that you don’t need. Get a pizza, watch Lawrence of Arabia, rub one out like a champ, and go into work the next day fresh.
If you are in a relationship, forgot about all of those activities that you think you should be doing and be selfish instead. Get a pizza, watch Lawrence of Arabia, have some mind-numbing average sex, and fall asleep in each other’s arms. It’ll be way cheaper and ultimately, way more satisfying than paying someone to write “ I <3 U” in the sky in chemical trails. Which brings me to my next and most favorite thing to do on Valentine’s Day…
On Valentine’s Day, flowers and chocolate appreciate in value at an alarming rate. So count your lucky stars that you’re not wasting your money on a relationship that’s literally subject to who does and doesn’t like your Instagram pictures. Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean shit anymore because anything that once resembled romance has been adopted and bastardized into just another cheap, tourism-store snow globe level trinket. For some reason loving someone isn’t enough – you have to buy them jewelry, chocolate, roses, heart-shaped paperweights, etc. It doesn’t matter, really – just as long as it’s red, expensive, and impresses his or her Facebook friends.
So if you’re in a relationship keep it kosher, keep it tasteful; buy a pizza and watch Lawrence of Arabia. Your single friends will hate you less when you tell them about it the next day.