Friendly Reflections For V-Day

That day for the pickpocketers of the heart has arrived once more; Cupid will now proceed to mug you at the mall, candy shops, and supermarkets. The numbers speak for themselves, like a death march from the times of Xerxes. U.S. News And World Report confirmed on Wednesday that "Valentine’s Day retail spending is expected to reach a record $18.9 billion this year," while, "More than half (54.9 percent) of Americans at least 18 years old said they plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year." The report goes on to state that the average American will spend $142.31 on what that little hustler Cupid has to sell.

The age range of the suckers willing to shell out that amount in a recovering economy goes from 18 to 44. So you essentially have young fools who still believe what the movies sell them and middle aged romantics trying to preserve whatever dying light is left.

As I type these words even the music I'm listening to on Spotify is being interrupted by some ad promising that if you purchase the cold, detached voice's flowers, then the recipient's heart will no doubt open its gates. In our world, "love" is of course confirmed through the purchase of items and relentless exchange of capital. Of course, like the feelings supposedly being expressed, the flowers will soon wither and smell of death.

At least the masters of consumerism know what they are doing. Universal Pictures is taking advantage of the supposed holiday weekend to release the big screen adaptation of "Fifty Shades Of Grey." This hymnal to objectification, shallowness, self-loathing, and just plain bad writing will no doubt rake millions, but it embodies who we really are as a society. It's fitting that a movie about a clueless college student willingly becoming the physical property (by contract!) of a cold, sharp guy in a suit should be released on Valentine's Day.

These are not the best of times to be guided by actual feelings and devotion. Believing looks don't matter or that finding someone worthwhile trumps material concerns is about the same as pretending to still wave the banners of the French Revolution in 2015 (I have tried).

However, even in these dark times, one can still wave the banner of friendship. The stupidity of our society reveals itself in the popular titles and (mis)conceptions of things such as "the Friend Zone." A good (married) friend of mine once told me "if you find a great friend, excellent, if not, then I'd rather just be alone."

These days forming a solid friendship can be even harder than dating. In this fast-paced age, in particular at a transfer college like SMC, dating and even intimate relations are reduced to fleeting encounters and bizarre arrangements meant to answer the hormonal call (then again, most practitioners of these rites are clueless 18-25 year-olds). Everyone is obsessed with their "career goals" and so amid this landscape the only real, solid "relationship" most people find are genuine friendships, even after those friendships might mutate into romantic situations.

Real friendships form out of an arrangement between peoples which can form spontaneously and naturally, guided by common interests or other factors. Yet a true friendship's foundation is built on trust, which is ever so fragile. Friendships can survive the storms life produces because, if they are honest and true, they are formed between two individuals unafraid to share their deepest fears and hopes, thoughts and dreams.

Too many times when we are young we obsess over dividing our relations between "friend zone" and those who are not condemned to that "zone," the datables we can probably call them. This doesn't mean that your friends should automatically become targets for Cupid's arrow (they don't have to, that's part of the beauty of a real friendship).

It is true that friendships too can end like romantic relationships. When they do it's just as hurtful.

But a real friendship doesn't depend on labels, it doesn't depend on preconceptions or movie-infused romantic expectations, it is a pure relation between people that formed because it wasn't seeking to be formed, it came to life on its own.

Such is the beauty of friendships that they do not depend on titles like "boyfriend" and "girlfriend" for respect to be generated. Respect in a real friendship is a natural, organic bond that forms because you appreciate this individual purely as an individual. Come to think of it, isn't that how romantic relationships should also develop?

In Latin America Valentine's Day is actually celebrated as "El Dia del Amor y La Amistad," the Day of Love And Friendship.

This Valentine's Day a.k.a Capitalism's Objectification Of Human Emotion And Delusions Day, ponder the value of friendship. It's good for your mushy, candy-colored soul.