In the country where there’s a market for anything, hugs can now be bought. Not prostitution—that’s been around forever— but cuddles by a professional, at an hourly rate.
The NJ Star Ledger wrote about how the industry has taken off in the state, earning pro-huggers $80 an hour. Evan Carp started Snuggle Buddies just over two years ago as a way to cope with his own depression following a debilitating illness.
Part of me is saying, “what next?”
And another is saying, “how sad.”
What a commentary about society today that people are so lonely and alone they need to pay for a snuggle to lift their spirits. Perhaps it’s another example of how we’re so plugged into our gadgets, we’re ignoring basic human interaction.
Remember the Free Hugs campaign started by Juan Mann at a Sydney, Australia shopping mall? The movement spread worldwide (this was before the going viral phenomenon), allowing complete strangers to hug in public. Perhaps there needs to be more of these.
The benefits of hugging aren’t new. Relationship counselors have advised 20-second bear hugs twice a day as a way to relieve stress and allow oxytocin to be released, helping us feel better.
We are all trying to make sense of the horrific news this past week that Germanwings pilot Andreas Lubitz suffered from depression which may have caused him to crash into the French Alps and kill all 150 people on board. The issue of mental stability and illness surfaces once again in the wake of this tragedy.
A hug might not have prevented this event; but more awareness—and yes, more human interaction—may have.