Isn't it about time we kill off this Valentine's Day charade?
Seriously. Aside from Christmas – the other holiday that's ostensibly about one thing (the birth of Baby Jesus), but really about another (gigantic corporations selling us stuff we don't need) – Valentine's is the most manipulative holiday in the U.S., currently practiced every friggin' Feb. 14 just when we've begun to recover financially from Dec. 25.
You may be thinking: Oh, this editor dude is probably just bitter because he doesn't have anybody to spend Valentine's Day with. OK, fair point, but that doesn't make me wrong. Valentine's Day isn't just bad for our pocketbooks and self-esteem, it's bad for the planet.
Here's the raw data:
* According to a 2009 report in Scientific American, "sending the roughly 100 million roses of a typical Valentine's Day produces some 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide," a key heat-trapping gas in causing what's known as the greenhouse effect responsible for global climate change. (That 100 million number, by the way, has more than doubled since 2009, according to flower retailers.)
* Sales of gold jewelry on Valentine's Day in the U.S. results in more than 34 million metric tons of waste, according to estimates by Oxfam America and Earthworks. Those estimates are based on sales of gold during the first two weeks of February. (Gold mining, incidentally, is not only one of the dirtiest industries in the world, but it has a terrible track record of exploiting workers.)
Those figures alone should be enough to raise eyebrows about shelling out your hard-earned cash on Valentine's for roses that are going to die and gold you don't need. But add to that the spike in depression among young people and adults alike, and the financial burden this "holiday" causes for folks who can't afford to spend extravagantly just to remain in good graces with their boobae, and Valentine's becomes downright ugly. About the only ones benefiting from it are the folks who push it on us so relentlessly – you know, those cheesy greeting card companies that study which schmaltzy words tug at the heart the most, the flower industry that jacks up prices on roses during February, and the jewelry industry that rakes in some $4.4 billion, more than any of the others.
The things is, you can be loving and respectful to your bae on any of the other 364 days.
Which leads us to this – CL's annual manipulative Valentine's Day issue, in which we offer some alternatives to all the Sturm und Drang. In "Valentine's Day Blowout," we give you permission to forego spending your money on roses and gold pendants and putting it to better use – like heading over to the Visulite to check out the striptease artists at Big Mamma's House of Burlesque, or donning your leather and lace for the final Purgatory shindig at Amos' Southend, or stripping down to your briefs at Cupid's Undie Run and then getting schnockered at the Cuddle You So Hard Valentine's Bar Crawl. Yeah, you'll be buying into the marketing, but you won't be playing into the cliche.
Better yet: Sit your ass down at home, kick off your shoes, and read the terrific cover stories in this issue by nightlife columnist Aerin Spruill and longtime CL funnywoman Joanne Spataro. In "True Confessions from the Millennial Dating World," Aerin gives the popular BET show Being Mary Jane a local spin for all y'all Charlotteans who'd like to get a glimpse into the dating patterns of our lovely and talented young ones. In "Everybody Needs Somebody, Even the Nacho Slobs," Joanne reports on the challenges of being paired up in our ever-expanding, increasingly diverse and sometimes even progressive Southern city.
Speaking of lovely and talented millennials, tech journalist and CL columnist Sherrell Dorsey gets the microphone turned around on her in the first installment of a new series on #BLKTECHCLT. in which news editor Ryan Pitkin interviews Dorsey about a new series of events she's launched to make the world of startups and investing and coding more accessible to us regular folks. Her first event, at Google Fiber Charlotte in December, was a smashing success and she's got even bigger ambitions for the next one.
So, shall we kill off Valentine's Day for good this year? Probabaly won't happen. Next year, we'll be right here again, talking about stuff you can do to spend your money more wisely, have fun (with or without a significant other), and be less of a cliche.