Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The day of Depression and Desperation – via Baba Valentine

It is that day of the year when you can only see one color – the color that symbolizes aggression as well as good luck at the same time! Not sure which one works for today, but given the sentiment, you would most likely be switching between being skeptical, judgemental, depressed and (supposedly, like me) indifferent!

This is a day when all your stereotypes come out and collaborate with your insecurities! A day – when the date is celebrated with implicit connotations of the so-called four-letter word, which few understand. A day when Love becomes a cryptocurrency – everyone talks about it, everyone wants a piece of it and hear stories about how everyone else apart from them has it but they don’t – but almost everyone is clueless about what exactly it is!

The word Love is confusing, as I believe, in most of my sociological intellectualization, that it is a packaged version of Lust when one moves from liking someone to needing something more! But then there is a nice explanation of the difference between Lust and Love – a TED talk by Terri Orbuch

I remember getting conscious about having conversations with girls on this day, lest they thought my intention was to drive them towards consummation, I mean, celebrating Valentine's day!

This is what an over-marketed day (now a festival of 12 days) does to you.
Couples end up overspending, singles end up over-depressed and pretentious couples end up....continuing to pretend!

A quick glance at your Facebook timeline leaves you overwhelmed with the deluge of couples sharing their pictures with their better halves, reinforcing their territories (almost shouting out loud that they do have someone to call their Valentine!). Maybe its the herd mentality or maybe it’s a FOMO at another level – they might be perceived as a depressed soul if they don’t put up their ‘young and happy’ couple pic!

Or maybe they realize the truth - When the ignorance through the year is supposedly compensated for in a single day, why take the trouble of spending time with your family and loved ones through the year when you can just put an image on FaceBook of the two of you!

Another interesting piece - echoing most items I dislike about the day was published in Indian Express last year by Jyotsna Basotia, some of which are highlighted in this text – a hyped day to either drive you broke or depressed!

So what are Indians searching for Valentines?
While surveys claim to tell what they want, Google is our new age mirror – you can’t hide much from it.
Inspired by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, I was curious to know what are Indians searching for.  Here is an interesting summary -

1. In India, Searches for Gifts for Girlfriend are more than Gifts for Boyfriend, where the reverse is valid for the world, especially US and UK. Clearly, we are different (gender bias?)

2. Top things searched for the day include Quotes, Gift, and few other items. But interestingly, have a look at the density of searches globally and then for India.

Globally, the order of search density is Quotes > Gifts > Love > Dinner > Sex
But in India, Quotes > Gifts > Love > Sex > Dinner  
We Indians surely have our priorities correct! (Just for records, as per research, while Married couples prefer dinner dates, youngsters prefer gifting!)

3. Which cities are the most excited about the day - Interestingly, in the past week, 8 out of 10 cities globally are from India - including (in decreasing order of search densities) Nagpur, Patna, Kanpur, Ghaziabad, Pimpri-Chinchwad (Pune), Noida, Jaipur and Gurgaon.
Surely, the Eastern belt in our country is more romantic! While this is largely attributed to the younger population, including student cities, you cannot undermine the possible inhibitions that we have to go and admit love – today is the official day to propose.

And why not, globally, 9 million marriage proposals would be made today. More than a million FaceBook users change their relationship status around this time (Source)

Can Money Buy Love
Valentine's day might have some confusing and disconnected history (which has got no relevance to the spends done during Valentine's), but that does not stop approx Rs. 20000 Cr (~$3 billion) being spent by Indians through this extra-red festival!

The official Webster’s Dictionary defines Valentine as “A card sent anonymously to ones real or pretended lover!” apart from “One's sweetheart or best friend”. Clearly, this reflects in the spending pattern as well. According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year!

In other cases, most of us believe in the monetization of love with extravagant representations – the size of which represent the size of our love! Shockingly, 90% people in a relationship buy a gift, be it fancy dinners or cure-all mend-all jewelry, that are ‘just’ perfect for your soulmate.

In a recent survey by Casharo, more than three-fourths of those dating, engaged or married “celebrate” Valentine’s Day by buying gifts for their partners. They are likely to spend anywhere between Rs 1,500 and Rs 3,000 on flowers, cards, and other things. Finally, there is an insightful Infographic on Valentine's Spends to give you further details of our wallets that expand during this time.

Do gifts help you strengthen your love? 
Well, some say they do – Prof Dan Ariely highlights the kinds of gifts that can ‘buy’ love! Not flowers or card or something temporary – the best ones are the long-lasting gifts remind about our relationship. So all the buyers out there, be little more original! :)
However, the underlying happiness that we get is the joy of gifting - giving gifts makes us happier. 
If that is the case, do we really need someone to gift to celebrate Valentine’s?
Why not gift something special to yourself? That brings me to the final part of my ranting...

Single-but-not-able-to-mingle
An interesting set of infographics highlights what this day means for Single.

I recall getting depressed looking at my Facebook timeline in my bachelor days and blaming my bad luck (or look, howsoever, you may want to pronounce it). Its apparently depressing for anyone who assumes it is a regular day for her/him, even if you are not single. They actually feel ‘singled out’ (pun intended)

Solution?
For the singles out there, avoid Facebook! :-) On a serious note, there is nothing to feel bad – its our own notions that makes us want to skip this day or go outside!
As the longest-serving first lady of the United States of America, Eleanor Roosevelt, had once said, “no one can make you feel inferior without your own consent.”

Data shows that three in 10 adult consumers who reported they aren't celebrating Valentine's Day still plan to spend money to treat themselves for the holiday by either buying themselves a gift or going out with family and friends, particularly those in 18-24 year old range.

You don't need a day to feel good, feel loved and feel pampered - you don't need a partner either. And the best part, you don't even need money to celebrate. 

As for me, am fortunate to have lovely ladies around me. My better half continues to get better every day, and my young lady thankfully doesn’t wait for roses, yet! 
To all the lovely ladies in my life (wife, daughter, mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, office colleagues, sisters and sisterly brothers), Have fun today – courtesy Baba Valentine!

To conclude, couldn’t resist to extend the nursery rhyme on Valentine’s (they have one!) with a more pragmatic version - 

The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you."

Just to extend it further…..

All my money has gone am left with few
For all that went into some stupid gifts for you
I thought our relationship will turn a page new,
But all that is left is back to me and you
And for the single me, am tired of the coochi-coo
For me, I am the one and I am the two!
Sanefully, I know where to draw the line
Be it Baba Cupid or even Baba Valentine!
Let me just wear red and have some fun like a regular day
Cause frankly, I don’t care a Damn about Valentine’s Day

Image Sources – Baby MirrorHappy womanVirushka
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