Yesterday was Friday. There were high winds, fierce periods of rainfall and brief interludes of sunshine, accompanied in the evening by Great Britain’s first Sochi gold medal (congratulations, Lizzie Yarnold) and another excellent re-run of New Tricks.
It also happened to be 14th February; the last movement in the concierto of flurried special offers at restaurants, over-dramatic window displays in shops and rushed film releases. St Valentine’s Day: otherwise infamous of the day when one who happens to be unattached cannot go to the cinema for the purposes of actually watching a film, check social media in the face of a deluge of drenched outpourings of ‘love’ or go out for a meal without coming under intense suspicion.
Against this storm surge of romantic seawater stand the Thames Barriers of anti-Valentine sentiment, decrying the celebration as ‘commercialised’ and ‘false’. But, I opine, the defence is required not only against one day, but rather, as with rainfall, against an almost incessant series of ‘romantic’ declarations throughout the year.
There are certain aspects of the romantic aura which can be preserved. The excellent captioned picture in the title picture would not be possible without that infamous short poem, descended from a collection of nursery rhymes. Moreover, familial events of love, such as christenings, birthday celebrations, marriages and funerals are pillars of our society which should not be erroneously eroded by the derision of anti-romantics. It is not against the actual fundamental principles of courtship or love which I regard with animosity; rather, the way modern society goes about proclaiming it.
Those of us with social media accounts will almost certainly be acquainted with those Facebook timeline posts or direct tweets by X declaring how Y are the best thing that ever happened, that X misses their darling Y with all of their heart, that Y could not sleep for thinking of X or enjoyed their romantic meal with X. And, for everyone except the persons involved, it provokes one of two reactions; either the wet, romanticised exhalation of longing that something similar would befall us (Z), or an expression of disgust and longing that they deactivate their accounts. In neither case does Z, in fact, actually want to view such things, no more than one wants to awkwardly stand beside a couple saying their goodbyes over-fondly whilst waiting for a train, or be forced to avert their gaze as couples declare their mutual undying love in a public place. Those of the first reaction, Za), would not be filled with such feelings of inadequacy or forlorn hope, whilst those of the second, Zb), would be spared the anguish and torment of such things.
Maybe I’m Victorian, archaic in perception, thought and reaction. I certainly belong to Zb). Having had experience of such things sent to me for all the world to read, and feeling sick in the stomach yet being compelled to be thankful, I have first-hand experience of the strain such public exhortations of ‘love’ can place on a relationship. Perhaps befitting a Brit two centuries afore my time, I struggle to cope with any public display of emotion, be it grief, love or pride when concerning personal matters. However, in my opinion – and it is only that – the reason certain people take such pains to tell people they love them is because they in fact do not. Rather than X sending a private message to Y, X posts it as a Facebook status, thereby ensuring friends and family of both all see it, because they are afraid the relationship will struggle, is short-term or is one-sided. Why else would X feel the need to announce it for all the world to see?
Those shaking their heads at this moment will argue that X might be completely in love with Y, assured of the continuance in their relationship and is hence so happy that they want everyone under the sun to know it. I refute this. Every single couple of my acquaintance who could possibly be termed ‘perfect’, ‘long-term’ or such adjectives refrain from such public declarations of their mutual adoration. It is a personal matter. And all of those who take openly to social media to incessantly declare it often break-up within a few months. In fact these public exhortations have the reverse of the desired effect because they highlight that X (the poster) is insecure in the relationship with Y and feels the necessity to declare his love openly in an effort to preserve it.
As I said, perhaps it’s a view framed by a monocle. But think about it. And the next time you feel compelled to openly and ostentatiously announce your love, please do so in private.
Featured image courtesy of “Talk Like Shakespeare Day”.