The modern concept of Valentine's Day as a celebration of roses and endless love can hurt those alone on the day, a Ballarat sociologist says.
Stephanie Hoey says Valentine's Day as it's currently marketed places stresses on people in relationships as well, turning the focus of people inward toward themselves rather than out to society.
A specialist in social memory and trauma, Ms Hoey is planning a campaign called 'Vinegar Valentines', offering a more realistic, less sugar-coated approach to a day 'traditionally' about the alleged joys of romantic love.
She plans to distribute posters across Ballarat which suggest a more truthful - and light-hearted - interpretation of what's possible in love.
Ms Hoey says for over 100 years in many countries there was a Valentine's tradition of sending cards, letters and images that were critical or dismissive.
The tradition existed until the 1940s, when commercialism began to dictate the direction of Valentine's Day.
"I have an interest in looking at love and the sociological traditions which have existed for the past 100 years; speaking the truth about the people you love," Ms Hoey says.
"Rather than have this sickening sweetness around the idea, you were able to speak the truth about a relationship - and that relationship could be your neighbour, your best friend, not just your lover. I'm interested in this tradition and reviving it, and how we cope when we don't have love."
Valentine's Day, the feast of St Valentine, honours any number of characters from Christian history who were allegedly martyrs to the faith, and whose relics and remains (probably enough to create a dozen skeletal saints) are scattered around churches and cathedrals around the world.
The modern association with romantic love grew out of 17th and 18th Century celebrations and poetry, so much that by the 19th Century the production of readymade cards and verse had boomed. Aided by the invention of the postage stamp, the delivery of professions of love and adoration exploded.
Today, Valentine's Day is an internet phenomenon.
"I'm going to create these posters, which are about bringing pop culture into the discourse - music, what's being said about love in today's music; in the various media, on Instagram, on Twitter - I want to explore these in the posters.
"Many people sent postcards, much like the French comic-book tradition. People who are not necessarily very literate make images about their feelings and their social life - these traditions started before the revolution in France, and in England at the same time. It's interesting to see how these traditions have changed, and how we play with them in the 21st Century.
So was Valentine's Day hijacked by the dollar?
"Of course capitalism comes into play. Capitalism like to capture feelings to commodify them, that's obvious for all of us now, we know that. But beyond that, it's modified the idea of the self within a relationship, and how we think of love.
"Before it was about the unit of the family. There are expectations on relationships on bettering yourself with, and these were never there before. It is about 'how do you feel within this relationship?' People are not really in tune with what capitalist society requires from them at this moment.
"Added to this you have a massive sense of loneliness. There are a lot of people who are very lonely and these days this is a social reminder of your failure. For a lot of people if you start looking at social media, it's not pretty. So these posters will attempt to soothe people and make them laugh.
So there is no spiritual basis for Valentine's Day any longer?
"It's a social construction and we need to expose them for what they are, and counter this capitalist trend," Stephanie Hoey laughs.
Ms Hoey says her posters will be visible across Ballarat.