Valentine’s Day: Rethinking Love in the Neoliberal Age

The market not only successfully commodifies the deepest of human emotions but endangers the very authenticity they were cherished for. Let us rethink love this Valentine's Day.

It is that time of the year again. Markets are full of roses and soft toys. Young couples are making a beeline for theatres, cafes and other hangout spots. From decorations to gifts, from flowers to chocolates – men must not leave a single stone unturned to make their lady love happy. The week beginning 7th February marks the commodification of love in the name of celebration. The likes and comments on social media are 

Valentines’ Day, far from being a celebration of love and togetherness, has reduced to a mere exhibition. Definitely, the markets are making profits. Dating apps are seeing increased activity since the beginning of the month. Restaurants and cafes are minting money. There are discounts and Valentines’ Day offers for shopping. All advertisements bombard customers with red hearts and a statutory warning – you are missing out on something huge if you fail to buy this particular brand of perfume for your romantic partner!

The commodification of love

Love is one of the most beautiful feelings. Can it be equated with a ring, rose, soft toy, wine, or lavish dinner? How can a gift measure love? Is the value of the gift directly proportional to the amount of love? Does a cheaper gift imply less love? Does not giving a gift mean that one does not love the other? Is love all about how much money one is willing to spend for the other? The neoliberal economy which believes that there is no free lunch has successfully managed to condition our minds. We cannot imagine a celebration of love without tangible objects to show our love. Love becomes a commodity whose exchange value is determined by another commodity – car, jewellery, apparel, smartphone, or even Netflix subscription in the digital age. 

love and market

Is love so cheap?

Can a strong emotion such as love be weighed against anything? Can anything in the world equal a mother’s love for her baby? Why should we express our love only for a day or week? Why not do so every day, not through expensive gifts but through our actions? Why can’t we celebrate love and be grateful for it every single day? Why do we let the market invade the innermost spheres of our personal lives? Why should the market dictate what we do on a particular day? Why should it compel us to celebrate our personal relationships in a certain way? Why should a romantic relationship be reduced to a dinner date? Surely there is more to love than what eyes can see or hands can hold.

Why are we so obsessed with a cinema-induced, heterosexual idea of love? Can we accept love in its various forms in these days of hate? Can we reject this neoliberal onslaught of the commodification of love and our everyday lives? Can we seek an alternative meaning of love by being more empathetic towards others? Can we look beyond restaurants and malls and enjoy the beauty of nature together? Can we let love enrich our soul instead of putting it on display for likes, shares, and comments? Unless we can rid ourselves of market-dictated ideas of celebration, we will only fall in love – and never rise in it!


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