The Null Device

Valentine's Day SMS bonanza

Happy Hallmark Day: Mobile phone operators in the UK are bracing for a bumper crop of SMS messages this Valentine's Day, as people send flirtatious text messages to each other. I wonder if they'll take a hint from the floral industry and jack the price of SMS messages up on Feb. 14? (Remember, if you express your love on any other day of the year, it doesn't count.)

Yet all this consumerism, patriotic as it may be, is not without cost: A survey has found that the effort people put into sending amorous text messages, buying cards, arranging romantic dinners with a loved one and seeking out gifts is estimated to cost British business more than £92m. Which is an outrageous toll on productivity. Perhaps we need a levy on Valentine's Day price hikes to make up for lost profits and productivity?

There are 21 comments on "Valentine's Day SMS bonanza":

Posted by: Graham Fri Feb 14 11:59:42 2003

The only SMS message I got today was from my cellphone company thanking me for sticking with them for 4 years.

Posted by: acb Fri Feb 14 12:20:36 2003

Hmm.. I see a market for Japanese-style "virtual {boy/girl}friend" mobile services. Pay a subscription (or just buy it the token number of virtual flowers/diamonds/candlelit dinners) and it'll send you flirty SMSes, making you feel like less of a loser in the game of lurve.

Posted by: Ritchie http:// Fri Feb 14 14:58:11 2003

You were hurt once, weren't you?


Posted by: acb Fri Feb 14 15:05:54 2003

What makes you say that? :-)

As a matter of fact, I'm rather unconcerned about my present romantic situation. (Let's just say I'm unavailable and leave it at that.) Though I consider the profiteering and manipulation that goes into Hallmark events like F14 to be somewhat distasteful. Why should relationships be held to ransom to boost the profits of Hallmark Interflora and DeBeers?

In case you're wondering, I'm similarly cynical about Christmas, that other instance of manufactured sentiment.

Posted by: acb Fri Feb 14 15:10:45 2003

To be honest, I do think that the notion of "romantic love" is grossly overrated (probably because of the psychology of aspirational consumerism and because it makes a good marketing ploy), as consider the notion that an active sex life is a basic human right (as the makers of Viagra and numerous lifestyle accessories would argue) to be somewhat bizarre. Sex and mate-selection (to use the biological term) are a much smaller part of the human psyche than advertising and the entertainment media would suggest.

Posted by: sam Sat Feb 15 09:47:29 2003

Oh my god. I thought I was the only one who thought like that! I'm glad to see there's at least one other person.

This whole "active sex life" thing puzzles me. If a couple is married and they're not having as much sex as they used to then there must be problems with the marriage, so they should either (a) divorce, (b) seek counselling, or (c) buy sex aids to spice things up. Errr, okay, why does it have to be all about sex all the time? Why can't they just be together for the intellectual comfort? I think that's a foreign concept to many, many people (and remember - the people that you or I know probably don't represent the masses so it's often hard for us to believe how shallow people can be but just have a look at Crown Casino on any Friday or Saturday night, for example).

My brother's girlfriend has this notion of "romantic love" in her head all the time. He has to buy her flowers, he has to take her out on dates, and so on. She's a pretty stereotypical girly-girl though. I know people who a

Posted by: sam Sat Feb 15 09:48:09 2003

ren't so stereotypical but who still have these ideas that they have to be taken out on dates, these ideas about marriage and 'how beautiful' it'll be. God, marriage, don't get me started on that!


Posted by: sam Sat Feb 15 09:50:05 2003

Where I said dates I should have actually said "dates" -- they want the whole manufactured thing. The boyfriend to call up and "ask her out" sort of thing, pick her up, give her flowers, go out to "dinner". This is after they'd been going out for four years too, by the way. How contrived!

Posted by: acb Sat Feb 15 14:39:20 2003

Yes, florists are like morticians: they're an industry that will never go out of business.

Posted by: acb Sat Feb 15 14:44:29 2003

Still, if you assume that most people rarely have an original thought and get through life on autopilot (i.e., that most people don't enjoy thinking for themselves and avoid it whenever possible), then that leaves sex and television. At least sex is interactive.

Posted by: Graham Sat Feb 15 15:11:59 2003

hey, my cousin's a florist. she's not all that keen on Valentine's Day, either, with the 20 hours day and all that.

Posted by: Graham Sat Feb 15 15:27:56 2003

Besides, this "everyone's a robot including me" talk is tantamount to nihilism in a sense.

Posted by: acb Sat Feb 15 15:59:45 2003

Not everybody's a robot; just that most people follow the path of least resistance. Go to your parents' church, vote for your parents' party (or rebel and become a socialist or tory), watch TV, buy a lifestyle at the mall, meet someone with a compatible lifestyle, buy a house in the suburbs, breed, repeat cycle.

Posted by: Graham Sun Feb 16 07:50:51 2003

"I chose not to choose life. I chose something else.", or however that Trainspotting rant goes...

Actually, going to church every Sundays is a bit of a committment, which is why most people don't do it.

Posted by: mark Sun Feb 16 12:05:31 2003

Well, feeling guilty for <em>not</em> going to church every Sunday, then. Being Christian because your parents were, not because you personally Believe, or anything.

Or, er, something.

Posted by: sam Mon Feb 17 11:33:53 2003

That autopilot comment - very true. Primary school->high school->university->move out->fulltime work->marriage->kids->retirement->death. Yes, I can see why sex and television are so popular. I've heard people say "oh I don't really like to read". Why, because you have to _think_?

Posted by: mark Mon Feb 17 12:45:06 2003

Fahrenheit 451. Thinking disrupts the autopilot response, and can cause unhappiness. Wipe it out whenever possible.

Posted by: Graham Mon Feb 17 14:55:49 2003

Of course, dying alone isn't all that wonderful either...

Posted by: acb Mon Feb 17 15:02:26 2003

One word: cats

Posted by: acb Mon Feb 17 15:20:29 2003

Seriously, though: which would be worse: dying alone, or spending your life with someone whom you can't stand, or are fundamentally incompatible with? The latter, I'd say. I've known people who feared being alone so much that they've made great compromises, and it's not much of an ideal for living.

Posted by: Graham Tue Feb 18 01:27:24 2003

You don't hang around with old people much, do you?