Hallmark denies or downplays whether it had any involvement in the invention of Valentine’s day, though it is often tagged as a “Hallmark Holiday.”
I expected to find that Valentines’ Day was cooked up by Edward Bernays [stderr] but Bernays mostly did public relations campaigns for toxic and manipulative products like tobacco – not chocolate. On the other hand, the Valentine’s Day public relations campaign has been remarkably effective. I remember when I was a kid, we made “Valentines” in school – perhaps as an experiment in teaching us how to be socially awkward. I only made one, and gave it to S—- Miller, who did throw a smile my way, but – as I found out later – she was creeped out by the fact that I only made one. Clearly, I needed to be educated more, but I wasn’t. My 6th grade class, I think it was, spent an afternoon decorating and signing cards; there were also commercially-produced cards, things that I now recall as cheesy, garish, garbage. It was probably an important lesson in socialization and social skills, in addition to learning how to handle rejection; I remember one kid got a card from someone he didn’t like and crumpled it up. Perhaps our teachers could have put some framing around
Today, I feel that social media is doing the same thing as those Valentines’ Day cards: devaluing the notion of “friend” by promoting the idea that you can show someone you care by clicking on a button, when prompted. To my mind, that misses the point of friendship entirely, and I feel like I’d be lying if I pretended to someone that I cared about them enough to put their birthday in my calendar, when in fact it was just Facebook reminding me that I could pretend to care with a simple mouse-click.
FredBlog has a cute feature where you can make a “Valentines’ Day Dashboard” of metrics and statistics for someone you care about. [fred] That raises a point which I sincerely believe: if you want to show someone you care – make something for them. It’s the only way to avoid the mass-produced, pre-packaged, inauthentic and merchandised. I know that’s showing my aesthetic bias, but I’d rather have a 3×5 card with some crayon-scribble on it (“love ya, Donald!”) instead of 10,000 tweets generated with a simple mouse-click.
I remember the candy hearts and chocolates weren’t very good, either. Between Halloween and Valentines’ Day I ingested a lot of garbage masquerading as ‘caring.’
$4 billion will be spent on diamonds, gold, and silver. I guess love is real.
If you feel affectionate toward someone, any day is a good day to mention it.
A related bit of weirdness about the whole “saint’s days” thing: we’re supposedly celebrating someone’s martyrdom, which is a nice roundabout way of saying that they were horribly murdered. So, yay? Perhaps someday there will be saint’s days for suicide bombers, and kids will exchange little chocolate airplanes and IEDs? The whole concept is extremely unsettling, to me; why are we supposed to care about some christian fanatic death cultist who was put to death cruelly by some other christian fanatic death cultists?