At Issue: The impact of Valentine’s Day in college
Our Take: Show love to everyone in your life
As we celebrate Valentine’s Day, we should remind ourselves of the importance of compassion in a world flooded with partisan disdain and other political, economic, and social issues. Emerson’s population extends far beyond its students. It includes anyone who spends nearly every day on our three-block campus. This Valentine’s Day, it’s imperative that we all take a moment out of our busy lives to show love and kindness to everyone on campus, including ourselves.
We should not solely dedicate Valentine’s Day to romantic relationships, but rather to the empathy, compassion, and admiration we feel for those who have a positive impact on our lives. Remember the T conductors, security guards, Dining Center workers, faculty, staff, and family members who all hold vital roles in our day-to-day activities. Write a thank you note to your professor, spend time talking to the staff, or call your parents to catch up and tell them you love them. These actions could make someone’s Valentine’s Day mean so much more.
It’s also important to acknowledge the capitalist nature of this holiday and the potential to spark habits of gratitude that could stick around. In 2018, CNN projected that Valentine’s Day consumers spent $19.6 billion on gifts in the U.S. last year. So instead of purchasing chocolate and a cheesy card from CVS Pharmacy, we can perform meaningful acts of kindness for a significant other, friend, or stranger. We can find other ways to show our love that don’t feed into the system of capitalism—we shouldn’t put a price on a feeling.
Many people can feel lonely or left out during a day that idealizes a flowery combination of love, companionship, and romance. A recent University of Chicago study found that negative thoughts about our interpersonal relationships are one of the biggest causes of loneliness. It’s undeniable that a holiday that encourages puppy love and public displays of affection can exacerbate this awareness of how alone we may feel. Connecting with people around us on this important day, despite our busy schedule, can help all of us feel better.
But these acts of love and kindness toward ourselves and others should go beyond special occasions and holidays. Remember the people you interact with everyday all have lives of their own outside Emerson. Our appreciation and acknowledgment for their work shouldn’t just be expressed on Valentine’s Day—it should be expressed every day.