6 Reasons We Need to Stop Hugging Each Other
For the first 11 years of my life, I believed that hugs were rare expressions of affection to be bestowed with frugality on certain occasions. Birthdays? No probs. Visiting Grandma? I got this. Christmas? No sweat. But come 6th grade, when my previously unaffected and guileless BFFs had completed their transformation into cloying and gossipy tweens, I was frustrated by the sudden expectation that I hug people literally all the time. People who I basically knew nothing about suddenly began to greet me as a long-lost sister and expected me to do the same. Meanwhile, my actual friends — who, I imagine, eagerly awaited my annually-bestowed hugs — gradually upped the hugging until it become nothing more than a conditioned response to a familiar face, a mechanical gesture almost entirely devoid of emotion and affection. Synopsis of my acquisition of the conditioned hug response:
“Thanks for the awesome hair crimper! You always make me feel so special on my birthday. Since it’s the one day out of the whole the year that is officially dedicated to celebrating me, I would very much appreciate one of your rare and much-coveted hugs. Please and thank you.” HUG.
“Hey, you! Sure haven’t seen you in these necka the woods for a while. How ya doin’, pal?” HUG.
“Why haven’t I seen you since our spelling test this morning??!!! OMIGODSOOOOOMUCHTOTELLYOU.” HUG.
“Wait, look at this pic on Myspace.” HUG.
“So, how did th— ” HUG.
HUG. HUG. HUG. HUG. HUG.
The madness has got to stop. And here’s why.
1. Hugging. Like… what? “I am happy to see you. NOW QUICKLY, PRESS YOUR BODY AGAINST MINE.”
This is essentially what a hug translates to. Most people do not seem to think this is weird, even though hugging another person is basically turning yourself into a vertical human mattress. Then you can’t help but wonder how your springiness, firmness, and overall comfort level compare to those of other people. If you ask yourself this question, then you acknowledge that a hug is a fundamentally sensual act. Now a hug seems grossly inappropriate in the context of greeting your uncle, your high school teacher, or that girl you met during March Through the Arch whose name you recall but who is otherwise a foreign entity.
2. We are fueling a world of lies. Is Glenn Beck really a fun, laid-back type of guy? Is the government hiding aliens from us? Did my friends ever find out that I didn’t actually catch a leprechaun? Is life, in reality, quite different than a box of chocolates? Do my friends secretly despise me, and the only reason I don’t know it is because I am constantly inundated with their duplicitous hugs?
Who knows. Anything could be true in The World of Lies.
3. The expectations are too damn high. Before I was 12, my hugs were much-sought-after stamps of approval. Receiving one of my hugs was a reward in itself. Nowadays, I’m expected to present people with offerings for merely falling within my field of vision. Next, they’ll want my dog. Or my hummus. We gotta lower these bitches’ standards.
Which reminds me…
4. We could be saving dolla dolla bills, y’all. Trust me on this one — I’m an econ major. If we were to stop hugging each other, the supply of hugs would decrease and the equilibrium value of hugs would rise. It’s that simple! If hugs were worth more, why would we waste our money to show people we care? Take a look at a world where hugs are appreciated, dammit:
“Oh yeah, I did see your bridal registry! Yeah… well you see, the lady who works the register at my Bed Bath and Beyond is suuuuuuuper awkward. Slash I’m pretty sure she is one of those people with weird addictions who eats, like, the foam padding out of bras. So I might not make the trip to get you that set of dinner plates you asked for. But I’d be happy to give you a hug! You’re cool with that, right? Great!!!”
It’s all about the Benjamins, amirite???
5. No more awkward “are we gonna hug” moments. Whenever I’m not sure if the other person expects a hug, I usually do that thing where I raise my arm in a half-wave, half-potential-one-armed hug, and then leave it to the other person’s interpretation. If they decide to go in for the hug when I’m not ready for it, the hug may produce disastrous results. More often than not, one of my arms is unable to escape. This leaves my bent arm sandwiched between our two bodies, with my fingers unwittingly and creepily stroking the other person’s neck as we pull apart. In general, going in for the hug on such a short notice almost always results in a public display of my lack of doing-normal-people-things skills. On the other hand, if the person opts out of the hug, I’m left with my arm hanging there like a total n00b. It’s lose-lose.
6. No more cooties.