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Digital communication to replace the human hug? - A guest blog

This post was written by Yariv Lerner – Keren’s brother. Follow him on twtter

I recently read an article about the dangers of a society which spends its time communicating digitally. The author in grave and sonorous tones indicated that eventually our brains are going to become rewired in a way which will make communication in person unmanageable. He mentioned facial expressions would soon be lost and tone of voice would become redundant. Computers have had some success in installing emoticons in a lot of chat forums. Personally they just don’t quite do the job. In the realm of real life contact, I hope that hugging survives.

There are many different hugs. Each one telling a tale about the huggers.

5 types of hugging you’re likely to have encountered:

“Hey I haven’t seen you in ages-two arm hug”

This is mainly done with the arms long and shoulders. The connection is all in the upper chest and lasts around two seconds. The arms are thrown around loosely and the hug usually ends with a little embarrassment and very little eye contact. Both huggers generally laugh a little till one of them breaks the ice with a “how the hell are you?” or something to that effect.

“You’ll get them next time hug”

This one involves one arm over the top of the shoulder and a double forearm shake. It says I still support you no matter what and even though you weren’t good enough this time keep working at it. It usually follows with an ego nursing breakdown about how the other person cheated.

“Heart hug”

This one is a little more intimate. Both huggers are opening themselves up to the other by connecting from the heart upwards. Proximity is tight and the arms wrap inwards and around the other person. The hug is slow and gentle and is held for about five seconds. Both huggers feel warm and connected afterwards and it is often followed by comfortable silence.

“Don’t let go hug”

This one is usually initiated by one of the huggers hugging the other with ferocious intent. The arms constrict the huggers and the hug is held much longer.  Usually only one of the two huggers hugs this way, the stronger hugger bringing the other deep into them. Sometimes it is reciprocated by the second hugger at the end of the contact with a confirming “I’ll never let go re-squeeze”, or occasionaly the arms of the second hugger go limp and the back bends with submission as every last drop of air is squeezed out. The answers are different in each case- either the huggee holds fast and says “don’t worry I won’t” or “you are literally suffocating me-let go”. This can depend on the strength of the initiator.

“Whole body hug”

My own personal favourite. This one starts up high and travels down the body as the chest, abdomen, pelvis and legs connect. It usually involves one of the two huggers staggering and sliding in the hips so there is a little more connection down under. It is a sneaky hug because from the outset it looks like the “heart hug” however there is a lot more going on in other areas- “if ya know wot I mean”

I am hoping that as we delve deeper into our digital communication habits, with the need for face to face contact becoming less of a priority- that we don’t forget the things which truly connect us. Personally I plan to practice hugging a little more regularly. It’s an art that is well worth developing.

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