The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Don’t be a fool this Valentine’s Day

Costa Rica, Spain and Ireland are just three of the 22 countries that students can learn more about at the study abroad fair. The event is sponsored by the Center for International Education and Veterans of Study Abroad and takes place Thursday.

Smack dab in the middle of every February falls a day where chocolate is the preferred currency, sappy rom-coms are rendered bearable and for every person who exclaims, “Love is in the air!” there’s another (probably single) person wearing a gas mask.

Ahh, Valentine’s Day: America’s most polarizing holiday.

What should be a benign day of relatively low cultural importance has been elevated to a day when all other subsets in a community fade into oblivion and the masses split into two distinct teams: the legions of lovers who simply can’t get enough of the saccharine traditions, splurging on fancy candlelit dinners and romantic roses for their special sweethearts; and the gang of pragmatists who deem it a commercialized, sexist or otherwise nonsensical holiday created solely to exclude and depress single people and rob everyone else of their well-earned cash.

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Kinda silly, right?

With Feb. 14 right around the corner, it’s hard to walk through a convenience store and not be stared down by a pink-ribboned teddy bear, or be barraged by those obnoxious 1-800-FLOWERS.COM online pop-up ads.

It’s also difficult to ignore the whiny, pathetic comments, Facebook updates, tweets and Tumblr posts from those folks who take no shame in informing the world that they’re FOREVER ALONE and experiencing an even deeper suffering on this particular day.

Then there’s that special group of anti-consumerist/anti-conformist/anti-Hallmark/anti-everything people who claim they would go to extreme lengths to abolish the extreme EVIL that is Valentine’s Day.

People just love to hate Valentine’s Day.

Recently, a friend introduced me to “Occupy Valentine’s Day,” an activist blog existing under the tagline “down with couple-talism!”

The site, created by author and editor Samhita Mukhopadhyay, consists of photos and written submissions from both single and coupled men and women who are attempting to revolutionize the “culture of romance” by rejecting the mainstream media’s projections of love and fidelity.

While I applaud their efforts to fight oppression and heteronormative standards, I fail to see how Valentine’s Day, of all things, is worthy of my anger.

There are much more harmful, unjust days that need to be protested: Tax Day, every single Monday and the day Kim Kardashian was given a television show are a few that spring to mind.

Boycotting a holiday as innocuous as Valentine’s Day requires concerted time, effort and concern — three endeavors I ultimately lack when it comes to Hallmark cards and stale
candy hearts.

Here’s the thing: When it comes to our dollars, we’re not slaves to the media, to the greeting card industry or even to gourmet chocolate truffles (OK, I take that back — I’m a complete slave to chocolate).

In the end, the only person who is pressuring you to buy extravagant gifts or have a significant other is you. And furthermore, by despising Valentine’s Day, you’re acknowledging that it is significant enough to cause you distress. In trying to combat it, you’re still validating its existence.

Personally, I’ve never been one to get caught up in the sentimental hoopla of the holiday; between the contrived displays of affection and a creepy flying man-baby, I’m just not really into it. But that doesn’t mean I will sign an online “End Valentine’s Day” petition (oh yes, it exists — 90 people have already pledged) or condemn others who choose to celebrate it.

After all, feeling resentful or intolerant towards a day centered around love, affection and warm fuzzies is both incredibly ironic and counterproductive.

Valentine’s Day is like Justin Bieber: It can be annoying and corny at times, but it’s also extremely profitable, defended by thousands of hopeless romantics and — whether you like it or not — probably going to be around for a while.

So get a grip and take a chill pill. If you don’t have a significant other, honor platonic love! Use the energy you’d exert in making a “Valentine’s Day Sucks” poster to make a homemade card for your mother, best friend or the cute little lunch lady who smiles at you everyday.

And if you absolutely cannot bear the thought of celebrating Valentine’s Day in any form, make the truly subversive decision to ignore it altogether — treat this Feb. 14 like any other boring Tuesday.

Valentine’s Day can be stupid.  But actively hating it? Even stupider.

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  • K

    KJFeb 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Wonderfully penned, A. So!

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Don’t be a fool this Valentine’s Day