One of the many wonderful things about living under capitalism is the bold and creative ways that companies find to charge us for things that should be free, like $200 bottles of water, or subscription apps that tell us how to breathe, or the collection and sale of our data as we walk down the street, or those companies that rent out fake friends and family members. But perhaps the most successful of these monetization efforts is love.
Love, which was mostly free for the first few thousand years of human existence, is now incredibly expensive. According to the National Retail Federation, U.S. consumers are expected to spend $27.4 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, with an average per-person spend of $196.31.
And beyond Valentine’s Day, there is immense pressure to spend money on our relationships in other ways. From weddings (which currently cost an average of $38,700), to regularly scheduled date nights, to anniversary gifts. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been with your partner for 40 years and have been in the same room as them while they took a shit on literally hundreds of occasions. You are meant to behave as though you are in a state of constant, swooning infatuation, and spend accordingly.
Since it’s Valentine’s Day, VICE asked me to make a gallery of photos to mark the day.