Like it or lump it, just don’t talk about it.
Valentines Day approaches. Restaurants, theatres, and other entertainment venues are looking forward to this date, alongside social media – both the owners and the denizens thereof. Valentines day, as with pretty much any other holiday, gets a certain theme going on social media or web forums and generally anywhere that Internet folk communicate. There’s two types of people that you’ll find online on Valentines: Those without dates and those with dates. Err, is that supposed to be intelligent or deep or something? No. This is a two-word survival guide with a lot of explanation. Those words?
There’s a weird tension to this day – because the culture we live in promotes relationships so aggressively. This is in part due to the marketing guys and various businesses who stand to make bank off of it, and partly just because the culture we live in tends to see companionship as an end-game to life. There’s a Dylan Moran line that sums it up nicely:
“Go and get a job. Go and find a flat. Find somebody else. Put them in the flat. Make them stay. “
I honestly think this mode of thought is dying out with the new millennium – Japan is an interesting case study of how the modern world has changed the priorities of the emerging generations, particularly away from each other. I don’t think that’s unique to Japan, but it is probably more extreme there.
But this is not a post about the generational changes and the thought abyss between the generations growing up in the new millennium, and those who grew up before it. This about the current state of affairs. The current state of affairs still tends towards seeing single people through the lense of: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Only with a more cosmopolitan/gender neutral tone in this day and age. This creates two interesting side effects, especially when combined with the narcissistic megaphone chum bucket that is social media. This is amplified on February the 14th.
First crowd first then: Those without. What tends to happen with the people who don’t have someone to latch onto, is that they will feel compelled towards posting a status update, or a tweet, or whatever it is that’s trendy. Probably some kind of hashtag-selfie. It will come in various forms, but will emphasise how much the poster does not care about being single on Valentines day. It will espouse the virtues of being a strong independent X who don’t need no Y. And it’s valid. You know a couple of paragraphs previously where I said that the society is still very willing to pressure you to share a space with someone that you may or may not care about? It is also quite happy to pressure you into being aloof, cold, self-sufficient, and independent. The idea being that by totally rejecting the old traditions of yore, in favour of the opposite, we’re proving that we can be happy without the social norms of the baby boomers.
Personally, I quite enjoy it. I enjoy that there’s an option for aggressive solitude. But it does fall into the same pit as the original: It’s just another social norm. It’s still trying to prove something. Everyone’s very busy trying to prove to everyone that they’re really happy with their personal situation. I’m not the first person to point out that most of the people trying to prove they’re happy probably aren’t. But the modern world also has us thinking we’re rock stars in our own little bubbles and so we need to constantly update our fans on whatever the fuck we’re doing, regardless of how banal it is.
It might also come in the form of politicised anti-corporate angst. “Valentines day is just a cash cow for hallmarks!” screams the lone warrior. True, at least in part. Whatever St. Valentine had to do with this occasion is pretty shredded, and where there’s mass-interest there’s money to be made. Cue commerce.
Now here’s why you shouldn’t say any of that: You can’t win. It doesn’t matter how well you can logically argue that Valentines day is a corporate farce, or that you’re happy on your jack Jones, or whatever. It doesn’t even matter if any of that is true. Nobody reading it will believe you. If you’re going out of your way to attack the holiday celebrating romantic love on whatever basis, people will only hear, “I’m lonely, I’m bitter because I’m not getting any tonight, so I’m going to attack everyone who is.” Again – this might not actually be you. For some of you it is. It doesn’t matter. The above is what your post invariably comes across as. So shut up. Don’t write anything on social media, or forums, or wherever. Be neutral. If you are looking for a way to prove your detachment from corporate profit driven romance, or you’re looking for a way to prove that you are a strong independent X who don’t need no Y, then stop bitching about it. Staying silent is the best way to signal to the world that you actually don’t give a fuck.
Onto the second crowd: Those with.
Put. Your. Fucking. Phone. Down.
We get it: You’re so in love. We get it: There are candles in the vicinity of food. We get it: You are happy. So why do you feel the need tell us so often at such volume? If you can find time to send a hundred tweets, Facebook updates, or pictures about how awesome your night is, then your night is not awesome. How much time are you spending on the attention you are paying to the person you’re with, versus how much time are you thinking about whatever message your next update or selfie should project? That’s not happiness, that’s bullshit. That’s a bad attempt at convincing the world you’ve achieved something and that you’re happy and content and so on. But because you feel the need to billboard it so aggressively, nobody with two brain cells to rub together believes you.
Shut up. Turn the phone off, turn twitter off, turn Facebook off. Go actually have a good time with your lover. That unsent tweet is thirty seconds mote sex, another bite of food, a stupid snatch of conversation that isn’t so stupid to you and that person you’re with. That’s your happiness, that’s proving to people that you’ve got something. If you’re having a good time then what the fuck does it matter what I think about it? Whether I hit the like button on your selfie or leave a comment on your update is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters, that should matter, is that you’re in the moment and enjoying it. People will fill in the blanks themselves.
Understand something: you can’t win. With that in mind, don’t play. Grab a book, grab a pen, grab a film, grab a takeaway menu, or perhaps grab yourself. Alternatively grab someone else in your nearby vicinity. Do not grab your phone. Do not grab a camera. Do not grab Facebook. Do not grab Twitter. Do not grab Tumblr. Do not grab Instagram. Do not grab any other social media platform. Stay away. If you are tempted to rave about how lonely you are: don’t. If you are tempted to rave about how corporate fuelled Valentines day is: don’t. If you are tempted to rave about how fucking amazing your day is, or even how bad it is: don’t.