Hugs: No Longer Free

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.

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About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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17 Responses to Hugs: No Longer Free

  1. madtaylor says:

    Really, if everyone would just get a Golden Retriever….

    Like

  2. I was thinking that– any dog really. Even a cat.

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  3. Interesting timing. I’ve looked into professional snugglers and was going to have an appointment Friday but then ended up not going into the city. I’ll gladly take a 20 second hug when i see you next.

    Like

  4. jfrances40 says:

    Wow. That is amazing and interesting to ponder…..we do have so many cats and dogs that need 24/7 hugs and love. People do think of everything!

    Like

  5. susanissima says:

    Sending free e-hugs to you and your readers, Lisa. Paying for a hug just seems sad and the people who are charging for them are just turkey vultures, in my humble opinion.

    Like

  6. Lisa, this paying for hugs has fuelled many conversations in my area. Imagine making $80/hr hugging – unbelievable! I agree that our plugged in world probably plays a huge role in cutting back the time we spend socially and face-to-face and we are paying the price for it.

    Very sad news about the Germanwings co-pilot and since you brought it up, it’s interesting to note that while our face-to-face time is less and less, the percentage of people suffering from depression and other diseases, at earlier ages than ever before, is increasing more and more. ❤
    Diana xo

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  7. Yes, Diana. Well said. So why aren’t people realizing that?

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  8. jmgoyder says:

    I am gobsmacked that hugs are now for sale!!!
    What next?

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  9. Drjcwash says:

    Hugs for sale. I have to hive out hugs. Some days my patients are very happy to get one. They just need a supportive voice. Great post. Don’t get me started on the topic of mental illness

    Like

  10. We, are alienated from each other with our gadgets and afflency. A little hug goes a long way

    Like

  11. ShimonZ says:

    God bless the child with friends…

    Like

  12. Some years ago, my eldest daughter was volunteering at a homeless shelter, interviewing clients for and annual event to do with The Christmas WishList. An older gentleman sat down across the table from her, said he didn’t want anything, just the conversation. They chatted for awhile and when he got up to leave, she asked him if she could give him a hug. He started to cry. Yes please, he said, I haven’t been hugged in a long, long time.

    Hugs are powerful connectors, my daughter calls it ‘standing heart to heart’.

    so sad we now sell them instead of giving them as they’re meant to be shared — freely standing heart to heart.

    Like

  13. I’ve seen people giving out hugs in public, but didn’t realize some of them charge for it! On the other hand, it’s so much nicer than people paying for so many other stupid things they pay for. As for the German wings incident, it still feels so unthinkable… I am managing that all of the surviving families need much more than a hug right now, but it might be a place to start.

    Like

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