TIME relationships

Teens Are Totally Over Valentine’s Day

Young love on social media isn't all it's cracked up to be, according to new research provided to TIME

Ah, to be young on Valentine’s Day: walking past aisles of CVS chocolates to pick up your acne medication, stalking your sister’s college roommate on Instagram to admire her cute boyfriend, glaring at the one couple in your high school who prove that teenage love isn’t a cruel rom-com fantasy. Nobody ever said adolescence was a bunch of roses, but now there’s data to prove how sad it really is.

Teenagers are the most miserable group on Valentine’s Day, according to new data compiled by social-media platform We Heart It and provided to TIME. The vast majority of 21,000 responses (over 98%) were from teenage girls, and they didn’t have a lot of love for the holiday. Only 13% of teenagers under 15 think Valentine’s Day is “painful,” while 22% say it’s “overrated,” and 24% think it’s irrelevant. Teenagers are also the least likely age group to send Valentines, with over 53% saying they’re not sending any at all (compared with 41% of respondents over 25).

Teens also have very different attitudes about social media on Valentine’s Day — and it’s giving new meaning to the phrase “love hurts.”

Young teens seem to think that social media is essential to the Valentine’s Day experience: 21% of respondents under 15 said social media was “extremely important” on Valentine’s Day, and over 64% said it was “somewhat” important. By contrast, only 10% of respondents over 25 said they thought it was “very important” to Instagram or Tweet their chocolates and flowers.

But all those vicarious Valentines aren’t making teens feel better — instead, social media make them feel worse. Only 36% said they thought social media made Valentine’s Day more fun, while 65% said social media either made them feel jealous or stressed out (34% said they got jealous, 31% said they got stressed). By contrast, 54% of respondents over 25 said they thought social media made the day more fun.

In other words: Valentine’s Day, like red wine and stinky cheese, just gets better with age.

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Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 11

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Data

It’s Better to Be Single on Valentine’s Day

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Getty Images

Neil McArthur is a philosopher specializing in ethical issues around sex and love. Marina Adshade is the author Dollars and Sex: How Economics Influences Sex and Love.

Valentine's Day is almost always a fail for people in relationships.

“I really love Valentine’s Day!” said no unattached person, ever. And why shouldn’t the holiday be depressing for singles, when everyone else is basking in the glory that is romantic love. While this feeling is understandable, it’s not exactly rational; being in love is no more wonderful, and probably quite a bit less so, on Valentine’s Day than it is on any other day of the year.

From an economic perspective, the value of Valentine’s Day is that it creates an environment in which those in relationships can get information about how committed their partner is. Of course, we look for this information throughout the year, but February 14 is the one day when you have to show your hand. From this perspective, Valentine’s Day is a massive coordinated effort in which men and women have little choice but to spend time and money to assure their partners that they are loved.

And boy do they spend. The National Retail Federation predicts that Americans will spend a total of $19 billion on Valentine’s giving this year. That averages out to $142 per person celebrating the holiday.

But it is not just the expense that makes it better to be single on Valentine’s Day. To understand why you are better off unattached, it is best to think of gift giving on this day as a type of Prisoner’s Dilemma, the outcome of which determines whether or not a person wants to stay in a relationship.

Valentine’s Day, essentially, is a game in which each person who is in a relationship must choose between two strategies; buy a gift for their significant other or do nothing to celebrate the day. Given that there are two players, each with two strategic options, there are three possible outcomes that can happen on the big day.

The first outcome is that both choose to buy gifts. In this case, both will be satisfied that their partner is committed to the relationship, but that satisfaction comes at a cost. Unlike Christmas, when you occasionally get things you actually want, the vast majority of spending on Valentine’s Day is on items that people do not choose for themselves; 53% receive candy, 38% receive flowers, 21% receive jewelry, and 51% receive greeting cards. The reason we rarely buy these things for ourselves is because they cost more than we personally value them. So when our partners buy them for us, they are not getting the biggest bang for their buck in terms of our happiness.

And on Valentine’s Day, these things often cost more than they do on other days of the year.

The second outcome is that one person in the relationship buys a gift and the other does not. This will likely leave the gift giver with the impression that his or her partner is not committed to the relationship. From now until the middle of March is the one of the biggest times of the year for break ups, according to data from Facebook, and 53% of women say they would dump a guy who ignored Valentine’s Day, two facts that suggest that people who choose this strategy do not end up with much relationship happiness.

The final outcome is that neither person in the relationship gives a gift. This is the outcome that has the biggest return for the couple, especially for those who are already confidently committed. But it is also the outcome that is least likely to occur; the risk is just too high that one person will decide, maybe even at the last minute, to buy a gift for either partner to take the chance that they are going to find themselves in the second outcome — and potentially in the dog house.

The best strategy would be for couples to ignore the holiday altogether, but they won’t because there is just too much pressure to conform to the holiday traditions from both inside and outside the relationship. From a game strategic perspective, participating in the holiday just leads to sub-optimal outcomes.

So, if you are single on Valentine’s Day, you are only missing out on the opportunity to participate in an exercise that makes everyone involved worse off than they would have been had the holiday not existed at all.

Clearly, you are better off being single on Valentine’s Day. And you are certainly no worse off by being single this Saturday than you are any other day of the year.

So, if you really want to enjoy the day, go buy yourself something that you actually want. And, in the future, you might think about dating someone with whom you arrange an efficient allocation of resources on Valentine’s Day; we recommend dating an economist.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Companies

Health Insurer Anthem Hit By Massive Cyber Attack

The company said names, birthdates, email address, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses were stolen

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Health insurer Anthem said hackers infiltrated its computer network and gained access to a host of personal information for customers and employees, including CEO Joseph Swedish.

The nation’s second-largest health insurer said it was contacting customers affected by the “very sophisticated” cyberattack and was working to figure out how many people were affected.

The company said information the hackers gained access to included names, birthdates, email address, employment details, Social Security numbers, incomes and street addresses of people who are currently covered or have had coverage in the past.

The Indianapolis-based insurer said credit card information wasn’t compromised, and it has yet to find evidence that medical information such as insurance claims and test results was targeted or obtained.

Anthem Inc., which recently changed its name from WellPoint, runs Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in more than a dozen states, including California, New York and Ohio. It covers more than 37 million people.

The insurer said all of its product lines were affected. It sells mainly private individual and group health insurance, plans on the health care overhaul’s public insurance exchanges and Medicare and Medicaid coverage. It also offers life insurance and dental and vision coverage.

Affected brands include Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Amerigroup.

Anthem said Wednesday evening that the FBI is investigating and the company has hired Internet security company Mandiant to improve its network defenses. The insurer will provide free credit monitoring and identity protection services.

The FBI urged Anthem customers contacted by the insurer to report suspected instances of identity theft.

In 2013, the insurer agreed to pay $1.7 million to resolve allegations it left the information of more than 612,000 members available online because of inadequate safeguards. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said that security weaknesses in an online application database left names, birthdates, addresses, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers, and health data accessible to unauthorized users.

The Health and Human Services Department said then that the insurer didn’t have adequate policies for authorizing access to the database, didn’t perform a needed technical evaluation after a software upgrade, and did not have technical safeguards to verify that the people or entities seeking access were authorized to view the information in the database.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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TIME Innovation

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

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The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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