Data visualization explores Valentine’s Day

One of the most divisive days of the year is upon us – Valentine’s Day.

What’s that I hear you retort, dear valued reader – Valentine’s Day isn’t divisive! This day, upon which we consummate and entrench our untold affections for our indescribably better better-half, is about love.

Is it?

Is it possible that this product-oriented parody of ‘love’ is just as likely to infuriate, dismay and leave people broke and broken-hearted? Let’s use some trusty data visualization to find out (today’s infographics are brought to you by

A needless spending spree

This day of hyper-consumerism and over-commercialization extorts the hapless, demanding the en masse purchase of the useless – disguised as an expression and measurement of our feelings.

But in reality, these uninspired purchases do nothing but conjure up images of nauseating romanticism and the clichéd.

Is it not entirely probable that forced gift giving represents thoughtlessness more than individuality or adoration?

Whatever the case, the trend is either being increasingly embraced or forced down our throats. According to the National Retail Federation (US), the average person will spend $116.21 on “traditional Valentine’s Day merchandise” this year. The National Confections Association (US) tells us that over 36 millions heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold this Valentine’s Day, while the US Greeting Card Association estimates that more than 15 million (meaningless) e-cards will be sent. The overall result? A post February 14th eBay flurry and an inbox crammed with junk mail.

Market research firm, IBIS World, reported that last year’s Valentine’s Day sales reached almost $19 billion in the US alone. But I’m sure those funds couldn’t have been repurposed to a nobler cause (starvation, poverty, cancer research, Yellowfin’s Business Intelligence solution)…

Perhaps – as David Letterman recommends – we should all save some money by breaking-up on February 13th and getting back together on the 15th.

Loneliness and heartbreak abounds

So, apart from the gross, inexcusable waste, are there any other good reasons to despise Valentine’s Day? Sure there are – especially if you’re single.

According to a recent study by Reuters, one in four Americans prefer (have) to spend Valentine’s Day with a pet, while comedian Lewis Black simply put it like this: “Valentine’s Day: the holiday that reminds you that if you don’t have a special someone, you’re alone.”

But it’s not just singles who suffer from the stigma of relationships (and binge drinking) on this day of expectation, suggests psychologist Dr Bill Cloke: “As adults, we experience the commercialization of Valentine’s Day as a day of great expectations, and just as often, great disappointments when our beloved’s gift-giving (or lack thereof) doesn’t support our romantic dreams.”

That, or the pressure of the day makes us realize that that special someone is someone else…

Happy Valentine’s Day

So, from the team at Yellowfin, have a happy Valentine’s Day this February 14th. We’ll leave you with Jon Stewart’s thoughts on the Big Day: “Valentine’s Day is often times a, well, it’s a manufactured day that really doesn’t mean anything."

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