HUGGING, the new HANDSHAKE

Online college just not the same

Online college just not the same

Annie Clarkson

A grossly overused expression of the 21st century is “______ is the new _______” – as in “trillion is the new billion” or “tofu is the new T-bone.” Just when I thought that expression was fading away, I read an alarming new variable: “Hugging is the new handshake.”

It is not my intent to stir up any hugging controversy at Missouri Southern. Many schools, especially at elementary and high school levels, are banning public displays of affections (PDAs) including hugging and even touching. In my years at MSSU, I’ve never seen any offensive PDAs. I do see a lot of hugging.

Banning PDAs is contrary to current greeting trends. The practice extends all the way to the White House. In February, Time Magazine dubbed President Obama the “hugger in chief.” He does it often, with ordinary people, heads of state, Republicans, and, most importantly, his wife and kids. Since every move he makes is met with as much praise as criticism, I’m sure the pundits have analyzed whether he moves to the right or left when hugging. Michelle Obama recently breached protocol by touching the queen of England and then went on to double-kiss the first lady of France.

But the Obamas are not the only media icons inspiring the trend. George Bush, Al Gore and Bill Clinton all had heavily publicized PDAs. Hugs feature prominently in many movies and TV shows. HBO’s hit TV show Entourage features conflict resolution by “hugging it out.” The Sopranos proved that even thugs can hug.

Three basic kinds of hugs have been identified in recent media:

There is the Bear Hug with full frontal contact.

The Workplace Hug or “Butt-Out” Hug with no contact below the shoulders.

The Hip-Hop Hug aka Man Hug with minimal shoulder contact, two pats on the back and an optional handshake.

I suspect I’m not the only person who isn’t a big fan of indiscriminate hugging. There are several more types of hugs that have led me to this conclusion, including but not limited to the sweaty hug, the drunk hug, the group hug, or the hug from someone who is a foot taller or a foot shorter than me.

I was just getting good at the handshake, or the latest version of the handshake like the knuckle-bump. So what’s next? Kissing is the new hugging? Hmmm, some trends are worth a try.