Valentine’s Day: Then And Now

Valentine’s Day is celebrated annually on the 14th of February worldwide. Synonymous with the ‘Day of Love’, it is popularly celebrated with the exchange of flowers, chocolates, cards and gifts. Over the past decade, Valentine’s Day cruises, trips and movie releases have become increasingly favourable to the conventional gifting options. 

Unfortunately with the advent of social media and mass advertising, this day has become extremely commercialised to appeal to the over-expecting consumers. While a bulk of the products cater to the romantics, the rising popularity of Anti-Valentine’s events and gifts have been targeted towards the skeptics. The perfect two-pronged approach, isn’t it?!

Alas, the origins of Valentine’s Day unbeknownst to most, has a rather dark history riddled with execution and martyrdom. Finding roots in Ancient Rome, legend has it that there were three different patron-saints who this festival commemorate, all by the name Valentine, who were martyred for love on the 14th of February. The former glorification of this romantic love has evolved into a day celebrating love and affection. Current-day scenario demonstrates that Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-sending holiday in the world, closely following Christmas. Love, truly conquers. 

In this age of social media, I wonder though, has the very definition of love changed? We live in the era of social media wherein our virtual existence is so elaborate and more often than not, a reflection of who we want to be seen as rather than who we are. In the midst of perfecting our faces with filters, we forget who we truly are; we fall in love with the person we wish we were instead. If we do not love our true selves, how could we expect someone else to? The virtual persona we have ever so elaborately created becomes our facade, only leading to eventual disappointment. We forget that making mistakes and imperfections are equivalent to being human. 

The romantic serenades, love letters and handwritten notes have been replaced by ‘sliding into DMs’ and ‘swiping right’. Appreciating someone has been reduced to a ‘double-tap’ and a ‘little blue thumbs-up’ icon. Most relationships today have more of an online presence than offline. Couples smiling cheerfully in pictures, plastered all across their social media profiles while they barely know happiness. The constant comparison with happier, richer, better couples, with a mere glance at their seemingly cheery pictures online, always guarantees to make you feel like you aren’t good enough. 

We’ve now stepped into a whole new dating culture - we date for the sake of dating. And here comes the plot twist - we refuse to commit. Fear of commitment stems from wanting instant gratification and nothing more. We’re unwilling to adjust, compromise and  give up and walk out at the sign of the smallest conflict. 

Valentine’s Day, in this day and age, has become more of a popularity contest and nothing more; affectionate displays with no want or need of commitment. As millenials, we crave for the facade of the perfect relationship but refuse to work on the one we have. Valentine’s Day has gone from a day of professing and immortalising undying love to a day where you are unable to meet your partner’s lofty expectations, in this age of social media. Over the years, there has been a shift from an idea of ‘us’ to an idea of ‘you and me’. 

Change is the only constant and we’ve been coping well enough. People are starting to introspect a lot more and are a lot more open about their identities, they’re willing to stand up for the person they are. So this isn’t all that bad. We’ve heralded a revolution of sorts and it’ll only get better from here. Exposure to social media has definitely influenced our thought processes, but we’ve also evolved to become a lot more mature. Valentine’s Day isn’t the social construct it was before, and maybe it’s not a bad thing.