The price tag on love
Everyone wants to sell you something this Valentine’s Day. Today, love isn’t just about what you say; it’s about how much you care to spend!
Valentine's Day always leaves me with mixed feelings. I kind of turn into the Grinch of Valentine while secretly hoping to be courted off my feet. However, what ticks me off the most and turns me mutant, is the outright commercialisation of the day. A former colleague recently told me that I should be more sympathetic to the excessive celebration surrounding this day. Some poor bloke, unlike the empowered, emancipated women like me, may pluck up the courage to express their love on this day, I was told. It is fantastic to be told how much you are loved. We feed on the other person's vulnerability and, in that moment, feel powerful, in control, loved. We feel secure enough to reciprocate that same vulnerability, and perhaps expose some of our weaknesses too. But, along with the tussle of complex human relationships that are at play, V-Day also means big business.
So big that in 2015, the V-Day market in India crossed a mind-blowing Rs 22,000 crore! A year earlier, it was Rs 16,000 crore; a whopping increase of 40 per cent, aided by e-commerce sites. In the US last year, consumers were expected to splurge $18.2 billion on their valentines. And, to think that I always found the relentless advertising campaigns pushing people to express their love by buying them gifts as fake as plastic implants! After all, when did it become necessary to make declarations of love bolstered by presents? Even Archies cards limited the V-Day selling to eloquent literary professions of love and perhaps a few knick-knacks. Today, it is not just flowers and chocolates; there are dedicated Valentine's Day sales!
From airlines to underwear, from cannabis-infused chocolates (yes, these are being sold in California) to helicopter rides, everyone wants to sell you something to make V-Day special. Genuine emotions and simple acts of appreciation just don't cut it anymore; and, they are definitely not acceptable by Facebook and Instagram audiences. V-Day has been reduced to the pompous show of love that must pass muster among your social media followers and evoke envy among your friends; we have somehow all bought into this modern brainwash. So deeply ingrained is this thinking in us that we actually get angry when our partners don't adequately appreciate us by spending their hard-earned moolah. We compare what our friends did on V-Day versus our miserable lacklustre celebrations.
Now, if buying affection is your thing, then go for it, but if it is real love that you seek (you know the lasting kinds?) then extravagance is unlikely to get you that promised chalice. I wish every day was Valentine's Day; a celebration of love through the small things. Rather than an obscene exhibition of money, I wish V-Day could be about true appreciation of a person, not just a lover but also parents, siblings, a dear friend.
A foot rub after an arduous day, a fun movie enjoyed cosily together, a hand-cooked meal, and more importantly some valuable time spent with the person you love because life is short and unpredictable, and while we can afford a lot of fabulous things, it is the luxury of time that we absolutely cannot.
(The writer is a journalist and media entrepreneur. The views expressed are strictly personal)