We’ve all had this friend, right?
YOU: “Hey, have you checked out __________ yet? It’s pretty cool.”
FRIEND: “Ugh, no thanks. That’s pretty trendy right now, don’t you think?”
You could fill in the blank with anything. An album. A movie. A TV show. It really doesn’t matter. Somewhere in the 1990s, it became the status quo for my generation to hate anything that was fashionable. In 2011, it’s now fashionable to hate. You’ve got to love the irony, right?
When I woke up this morning, by 7am my Twitter stream was already full of anti-Valentine’s Day sentiment, but not for the typical reasons that I’m used to seeing. I’m used to seeing people detest Valentine’s Day because they’re single and feel left out, or are reminded of the fact that they don’t have someone special to share the day with and it makes them feel sad and isolated. However, while sifting through the numerous tweets this morning, the reoccuring motif was simply anti-capitalism. I don’t disagree with the mindset behind anti-capitalism, but truth be told, capitalism is not the first thought that creeps into my head when I think about Valentine’s Day.
Sure, Valentine’s Day is absolutely a manufactured holiday that was created as a financial bridge by the greeting card industry to keep profits rolling in between Christmas and Easter. From that, the rest of the retail world caught on and began pumping out goods that they could attach to the holiday such as candy and flowers. Is that really any different than creating an iPhone 4 to bridge the financial gap between the iPhone 3G and the iPad? It’s business. It’s how companies survive. Like it or not, capitalism is the foundation upon which our country sits. It’s the backbone of our economy. We work hard, we get paid, we use that money to purchase things and thus stimulate the economy. It makes no difference what we buy, just so long as the money is floating around in the channel. I find it humorous that a person can purchase a fancy high-definition television for no other reason than to improve their entertainment consumption experience, but buying a dozen roses one day a year as a way of showing affection to a loved one is capitalism.
Understand that I am not trying to convince anyone to go buy Valentine’s Day trinkets. If spending money on Valentine’s Day goes against your political compass, then absolutely don’t do it. I only want to encourage you to consider alternative uses of the day other than to flex your mighty cynicism. At it’s core, isn’t Valentine’s Day really just a day to celebrate love? Is that such a bad thing? In today’s day and age, I’d think we could use a little more of that. Love is a reminder that we are still human. In our society, negativity flows like wine and our generation is all too eager to drink from the glass. It tastes like wine, but affects us like hemlock. That saddens me deeply.
If you feel as though we’re being taken advantage of in a capitalist world, then I say we simply take Valentine’s Day back. Let’s not let it become a capitalist holiday for profit. Let’s celebrate the concept behind it and nothing more. Let’s use the opportunity to be a little nicer to each other. Let’s go the extra mile today for someone in need. Let’s hold those closest to us just a bit tighter. Most importantly, let’s not let our cynicism take control of us and prevent us from enjoying the silly little things in life, whatever they may be. Our emotions can’t be bought, so for Valentine’s Day this year, rather than just post snarky hate messages and ignore it’s existence, why not try an experiment. Get up, walk over to the nearest special person in your life and say this: “I love you.” Did it make them smile? Did it make them shed tears of joy? Did it cost you a single penny? Think about it…