Opinion | Stop pricing love

By Neshmia Malik, Columnist

Gift-giving is an essential aspect of several holidays, demonstrating how our society has been taught to place a monetary value on love. This unhealthy phenomenon has taught us to define our love for someone based on how expensive a gift they have chosen for us is. We have nailed a dollar sign in front of just about anything that acts as a form of love, commodifying our affection and moulding us into consumers of love instead of participants in it. The practice of price-centric gift-giving is a destructive cultural imperative, and we’ve bought into it — literally. 

There is always another holiday somewhere around the corner, whether it be Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or birthdays. Over time, these special days have tossed out the idea of a thoughtful letter and have begun to normalize a $300 ring as a one-month anniversary gift. We have been brainwashed to give and receive gifts on these special days in order to express a strong sentiment toward one another. 

While receiving nice things can be enjoyable, there are inexpensive, more thoughtful ways to showcase your appreciation for someone. A meaningful way to convey your appreciation for someone could be the simplest, yet most touching: Through your words. Taking out little moments in your day to tell someone why you appreciate them, or point out qualities of theirs you deem admirable, has a healthier effect on their emotional relationship. 

Nowadays, people expect extravagance, perhaps $3.3 million for a marriage proposal like Kanye West. In comparison, Will Smith mentioned after his minimal proposal of how simplicity became the “jewel” of their lifestyle. We should emphasize the importance of living a wholesome life, without relying on materialistic possessions to fuel our relationships. True love should not come with a price. 

The system we live in sells you all the goods you don’t need, claiming they’re the key to your happiness. Gift-giving has made love a transaction, a grotesque idea that feeds into a false reality that money buys love. In actuality, material possessions cannot portray love as powerfully as our thoughts, actions and words. 

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Completely condemning the idea of gifting material possessions would be hypocritical of me, because I appreciate it too, but when the line crosses from appreciation to expectation, relationships can turn toxic. The stronger association we make between love and gifts, the less appreciation is felt with simpler, more thoughtful actions, leading to a transactional relationship, solely based on gifts. 

When we use money and gift-giving as a valuable asset of conveying our love to someone, pure actions of sentiment become meaningless. It is important for the growing generation to recognize the worth of costless gifts or ones that don’t require an abundance of money. 

Neshmia is a sophomore in Media.

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