This week, a wholesome story about hugging went viral on Twitter. Former BuzzFeed News editor Isaac Fitzgerald heard a guy call out to a friend outside a bar. They embraced — “for a VERY long time,” apparently — as bystanders applauded. “We promised when we saw each other again we would hug each other very, very hard. And now we have,” the hugger told Fitzgerald. The original tweet received over 30,000 likes.
Hugging has been just one of the social casualties of the pandemic. As we learned more about how COVID-19 spreads, we adjusted our behavior, staying home when we could and keeping our distance as much as possible. Touching of any kind seemed dangerous. But many of us missed physical interactions, whether it was the soothing assurances of family, the release of sex, or the incidental togetherness of everyday life. And hugs have come to represent the easy intimacies we used to share. A hug can be a polite, casual ritual or an intense gesture of love. Avoiding them is a safe choice — but without them, greetings and farewells can be awkward or just plain sad.
At every stage of the pandemic, we’ve had to negotiate the relative risk and reward of physical contact. And now, as more people in the US get vaccinated and the weather grows warmer, plenty of friends and family members are gearing up for those longed-for embraces. As with all other decisions about socializing, though, we all have different opinions about whether we should go back to hugging each other.
Has the pandemic changed how you feel about hugs? Will you be greeting people the same way you did prepandemic, or will you switch it up with elbow bumps and the like? We’d love to hear from you — fill out this form to share your experiences. We may reach out with follow-up questions. Your answers may appear in a future BuzzFeed News story. ●