Most of us never stopped hugging people because of the 'Rona, but this is the Los Angeles Times – one of the biggest papers in the nation – asking in NOVEMBER 2022 if it's safe to hug people again:
"How to handle the awkwardness of greeting people"
I think back to January 2021, when my family packed into a restaurant that refused to lock down. We waited over an hour in our car to get a table. People were saying hi, eating, laughing, and enjoying life.
A man came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder to comment on how nice our family looked.
We never stopped gathering for Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. We kept attending church and hugging friends.
But the jOuRnALisTs out in LA are just emerging from their 2020 cocoons.
Something surprising happened recently to Mia Schachter, a consent educator, podcaster and intimacy coordinator who founded the school Consent Wizardry. "I met a completely new person, and I put out my hand to shake hers, and she went in for a hug," Schachter explains. "I am a hugger!" But "the total stranger with no check in — it's too intimate!" they say. "I think that I was optimistic with COVID, as we come out of this global tragedy, that at least people will be better about boundaries, which is turning out to be not the case."
Look, I'm actually more of an introvert. There were a few months there where not being expected to go to social functions and meet new people was great.
But these bubble boys are so traumatized that they call hugging people "the Wild West" now.
"It's like the Wild West again," agrees social psychologist Tessa West, a professor at New York University and author of "Jerks at Work: Toxic Coworkers and What to Do About Them." "During the pandemic, we went into a really awkward period where we started to just elbow each other instead of hugging. And now no one knows whether hugs are back. Now especially, we just don't have implicit norms around these types of behaviors."
Yeah, so the pandemic was over for most of us in about May 2020 when we realized that Covid wasn't going to kill the vast majority of us and was particularly not threatening to our kids.
By late December 2021, when the omicron variant replaced the more lethal delta variant (because the Chinese-lab-modified bat virus was modifying itself to be more contagious and less lethal to humans, which is what successful viruses do), the pandemic was officially over.
I had Delta the last two weeks it was the primary strain in America. It sucked. The Chinese and Dr. Fauci/Dr. Francis Collins of the NIH really did a number on me there for two weeks.
My ailing grandfather died of the delta strain at the same time I had it. I was unable to see him one last time before he died.
So believe me when I say that I understand the horrorfest that was early Covid. We should be angry at the people who unleashed this virus on us.
But once everyone could get the experimental jabbity jab and Covid mutated, the pandemic was over. To not hug people over a few days of the sniffles is insane.
But the LA Times wants us to "confront how we really feel about hugging."
Instead, we get the awkward dance of should-we-or-should-we-not, hugs that people don't want and at least a few hugless folks who really wish someone had given them one. As we head back to workplaces and get ready for the holidays, it's time to confront how we really feel about hugging — and what we're going to do about it.
Hugging may be a cultural norm among Americans, but when you stop to think about it, putting your arms around a relative stranger is sort of an odd thing to do. West posits that, like handshakes, hugging probably originally signaled that someone didn't have a weapon and was safe to be around. "Now it's kind of an appendix. We're stuck with it even though it doesn't have much utility," she says.
"Doesn't have much utility"??
Did I mention these people are weirdos??
Seriously, have these people ever been hugged? I will volunteer to give them one if needed.
Lisa Mirza Grotts, an etiquette expert based in San Francisco, says the problem with hugging is "there's so much uncertainty. It makes people nervous." She advises going with a handshake, which, despite its predicted demise due to COVID, seems to be on the way back as well. "You make quick eye contact, you shake for a few seconds and you move on. A hug can definitely be a substitute handshake, but to hug instead, you really have to know your audience."
Basically, what this long-winded article is trying to say is that you should pay attention to context before you go in for a fist bump or a bear hug or the Italian cheek kiss when you greet people.
You know, like everyone on the planet has done in every social interaction since the dawn of time.
The LA Times has paragraphs upon paragraphs after this point, but I found the 5-step plan to avoid hugs the most hilarious part of the article.
Seriously, is this The Babylon Bee??
I'll leave you with a far funnier guide to hugging than the LA Times could provide!