Valentine Online

It is no secret that social media isn’t great for our mental well-being. I have written about it numerous times, and even bringing it up again makes me roll my eyes. Not only at the idea, but that it’s still something that plays on my mind. Why? Because I love it. Not all of it, but I am into my Instagram. I love following people and seeing what they post and want to share, I love posting pictures and connecting with people. I know that there are filters and of course people post their best lives. In my mind, everyone who uses it has an agenda.

On my running page I want to drum up support for the charities I support and the races I do – and yes, sometimes I want to show off. On my business page, I want to show my business, my personality, and drive you to read things like this. So, as this is my mindset, I guess I don’t care too much about what I see. I don’t tweet (I am on my phone enough, thanks). I rarely use Facebook (I don’t have 300+ friends. My circle is far smaller and stronger than that). And when I go online, I don’t care other than to be pleased for you and what you are showing. Your parties, Christmases, New Years, Holidays they all look amazing and I am genuinely pleased for you. But by God do I hate Valentine’s Day.

I am not unromantic, I don’t hate love. My life is full of love and people that I love and care deeply for. I am shown love every day in so many different, beautiful and perfect ways. I can while away many an hour listening to - and falling in love with - James Bay. I watch movies and TV and wish characters will get together. But there is something about Valentine’s that I cannot bear. It feels more forced than new year’s, with more pressure to be in love. And what does love look like? It’s pink and glossy, red and shiny with a subtle dose of tacky on the side. Ahem, clearly, it’s a trigger for me. I am also so thankful that social media didn’t exist when I was younger.

Growing through my teenage years, I was never anyone’s Valentine (being “the funny one” was nice, but the yeah…no one crushed on that girl). I’d make jokes about it (obvs), then I would go home, cry and wonder what the hell is wrong with me. I also would have stared at my phone wondering why my crush hadn’t text me. Surely, suddenly on the 14th of February Crush would wake and realise that he did, in fact, love me too and would tell me so. (True story after a year of unrequited love, and me listening to sad songs on repeat and being hilarious in his presence, the biggest crush of my school years came to his senses. Calling me on the Millennium Eve, leaving me the voicemail I had always wanted. I listened to it about 64,000 times, swooned, freaked out that it was some sort of joke and that was the end of that).

Now though, I guess I would have been more forward, Whitney Houston on loop and crying over him would be replaced by strategic online posts, hilarity displayed in group chat. Then being left on read, as you wonder if he is with a girl who can contour properly.

The first time I got a gift from a boyfriend was a Christmas gift. He got me a teddy and perfume. I remember opening it and thinking “huh”. It was an Eeyore wearing a kilt. I had never made any reference to liking Eeyore (if I was a fan of any of the One Hundred Acre Wood crew, it’s Pooh, or maybe snarky Rabbit). The perfume was one that his last girlfriend used to wear, she was also called Claire (he told me this at the time) Was this really what a romantic gift was like? I didn’t hang around until Valentine’s Day to find out. I mean, I say I didn’t, shortly after he told me – through a friend – that he was still in love with the other Claire. Did anyone else see that coming?

As a woman now in her 30s, in a relationship, Valentine’s still triggers me. I have handled so many other things that life has thrown at me, but this time of year puts me in a funk. None of us are immune to something or other triggering online: for me it’s heart, flowers and teddy bears (and maybe the perfume your ex wears). I can say, whole (helium)heartedly that social media is bad for our health. Like everything else that’s bad for us, we have to cut it out (or at least cut it down).

So, to all of you in love and ready to show the world, I salute you. I hope you have a wonderful day and you feel like a Prince or Princess. I hope you get all the hearts and flowers you ever wanted, or you didn’t even know you wanted. If you are asking big questions, I hope you get a “yes” and drink champagne and dream about your futures together.

I’ll see all of this on the 15th, tomorrow I will be listening to James Bay.

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