Many people feel sad on Valentine’s Day for a great number of reasons. Is it legitimate sadness or is it normalized, commercial sadness? We’re all witnessing the slow rise of Vaporwave and “sad boy” memes. Does this mean that we’re aestheticizing sadness and trying to normalize it or is this all another big joke? I’ll admit that at first I thought it was all one big joke, but I keep seeing more and more people share those “aesthetic” Simpsons clips featuring something along the lines of Yung Lean or Macintosh Plus music. So are we all really joking about being sad, pretending to be sad because it’s “cool” or are we actually sad?
Picture this: It’s Valentine’s Day. There are tons of flowers and chocolate around you and you know you won’t be getting any of that this year. You just want to stay in bed and avoid sunlight. This is a perfectly valid reason to feel and act sad. However, your Facebook feed says these emotions are “a e s t h e t i c,” lean and memes rather than real feelings caused by real problems. While masking sadness with “cool” memes, the ability to express emotions is slowly slipping from us like a balloon. The mainstream attempt to normalize anxiety and depression is making their existence even blurrier than it already was. I’ve seen countless articles arguing that depression and/or anxiety are “not a valid excuse.” This new “sad fad” is not making things any easier for those who truly suffer from anxiety and depression. Sadness, whether it be on Valentine’s Day or any other day, is valid when it’s not being forged to fit into a mold.
I like Vaporwave music just as much as the next girl, even if it may be a symbol of the attempt to make sadness mainstream and invalidate depression and/or anxiety. I’m not here to pretend to be sad for no reason while I sip on Arizona tea (or lean) and listen to SoundCloud. I’m here to enjoy some unique, surrealistic, laid-back music. I shouldn’t have to fit the “sad” mold to enjoy the music I like, and neither should anybody else. Music can belong to anyone and no emotion is meant to be induced, whether it be for the love of music or memes.
Memes go hand-in-hand with the new mold we are creating. Whether they are making us all emotionally detached or not. They’re a good laugh whether I’m happy, angry, sad or feeling Valentine’s blues. Maybe one day they can be “artistic praxis,” as someone I know once put it as they do sometimes express true feelings in a condensed form. However, social media platforms have seen the increase of memes about suicide, depression and feeling dead inside, which diminishes just how serious these issues can be. I’m not saying it’s wrong to laugh and relate to memes. No one is to dictate what goes on social media and who can enjoy it and who can’t. However, the attempt to romanticize something as raw and real as depression is getting out of hand. Just look a little more closely. How many memes did you see today about drinking bleach, wanting to die or not wanting to exist? Maybe it was funny when there were only a few, but at this point it’s tiring. Just go look at those Facebook pages with names like “Y U N G B O Y” followed by some Japanese characters. All these pages post is either clips with a trippy purple filter of shows we enjoy while some obscure Vaporwave song plays or memes about dying.
Whether you get flowers and chocolate this Valentine’s Day or not, it’s okay. It’s okay to go home and enjoy some Vaporwave and memes if that’s what you’re into. If you actually feel sad, you don’t have to listen to Vaporwave and find memes unless you want to. There’s no reason to pretend to be sad when you’re not and feel proud of it. Just do what you want this Valentine’s Day because emotions are never meant to be induced.
Viri Garcia is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org