By Mitch Cohen
As a kid, one of my favorite days in elementary school was Valentine's Day. Once a year, students made valentines and passed them out to their classmates. What made this day memorable was how everyone was included in the celebration.
Since then the meaning of Valentine's Day has changed significantly for me. Instead of receiving valentines from peers, the holiday focuses more on having a romantic partner. Social media did not help matters in my case and allowed couples to profess their love for one another. As a result, I grew to hate Valentine's Day because the only way to enjoy it as a teenager is to be in a relationship.
In 2019, I started using social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat for the first time. While these platforms allowed me to communicate with friends and family, the main issue with them is how they create FOMO. FOMO stands for Fear Of Missing Out, and refers to feeling excluded when other people are having fun. I feel FOMO the most whenever I see couples express their love for one another on social media. On Valentine’s Day, FOMO is at its worst due to the amount of couples expressing feelings simultaneously. While I’m glad to see people in happy relationships, it can be difficult at the same time because it makes me feel left out of the festivities.
Another issue I have with Valentine's Day is how it negatively affects mental health. Since I wasn’t in a relationship last year, it was challenging to keep a positive attitude. Last year, I grew so jealous of other people that once the day was done, I felt mentally drained.Viewing Social media makes the holiday worse, as it’s difficult to stop feeling envious and find something positive to think about. My strategy for overcoming these feelings was to put down social media and do something fun. For instance, back in 2020 I decided to go to Roosevelt Field and shop, which kept my mind occupied. This ended up being a great distraction for me because my mindset was focused on something I enjoyed doing, as opposed to missing out on Valentine’s Day.
Ultimately, my biggest gripe with Valentine’s Day is that it’s not fun for everybody to celebrate. As previously stated, one of my favorite holidays to celebrate in elementary school was Valentine’s Day because everyone was included. I remember making a box and valentines for my classmates, and once I got to school, everyone would set up their boxes and distribute their valentine’s cards and treats to one another. What made this so enjoyable for me was that it allowed everyone to enjoy the holiday despite being too young for relationships.
As I’ve grown older, it feels like Valentine’s Day has become more centered around having a romantic partner as opposed to spending it with the people you’re close to. As a kid, I used to love it because it allowed everyone to feel included, whether they were in a relationship or not. As an adult, it feels like the holiday is all about having a romantic partner and posting about it on social media, causing many to have a fear of missing out and developing envious thoughts.