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Social Media: I Hug Back!

Are you a “hugger”? You know what I mean. Some people are big huggers and some… not so much. I came from a family that was in the “not so much” category as it applied to physical affection. How about you? Here’s a test… if someone hugs you, who lets go first? It wasn’t until I was an adult that some of my friends started to win me over the huggy side of the fence. And you know what, I’ve never looked back.

My wife and I are super affectionate to our now 6½ year old girl. I recall reading studies that animals who were provided plenty of food, water and warmth, but no touching, grew weak and even died. Our little girl certainly is in no danger except perhaps from an overzealous hug. 😉 But what about us adults? Do we need hugs, too? I think the common wisdom says we do… that it affects our happiness and health, BUT…

We live in a world that’s increasingly distancing us from other people. Families live in other states or even countries. And we spend increasing amounts of time online instead of together. So can friends, maybe even friends we’ve never met in person, contribute to our health and well being via social media as an article on BitRebels by Dianna Adams asks, “Can Twitter Hugs Improve Your Health?” She says, “Yes”, and I agree. So here’s my question… do you hug online?

I Hug Back Online

I do. On Facebook and Twitter when I notice someone seems to be having a rough day I take a moment to check in, ask how they are doing, and offer a hug. It goes both ways. Just yesterday one of my online friends sent me a *hug* via tweet. And you know what? It made me feel better! So I’m committed daily to trying to make a difference in at least a few peoples lives by caring and offering *hugs*. Maybe it’s a small thing, but cumulatively…

I’ll bet if more and more people offered genuine caring positive thoughts and hugs, even if it’s just online via social media, that it will have a very real physiological and psychological effect. I’m no scientist and I can’t back this up, but what do you think? It feels right, and certainly can’t hurt. In fact I’ve just coined a new Twitter tag, #IHugBack! I see people post #IFollowBack, but wouldn’t it be great if we all hugged back?

For all of my dear friends online, many of whom I’ve never met in person, thank you for the difference you’ve made in my life. I like the idea that if my 2 year old must grow up in a world that’s increasingly disconnected physically, while super-connected technologically, that she’ll have an ongoing source of *hugs* when the day comes (I pray a very long time from now) when Daddy’s not there to give them.

So… go out an hug someone. Hug several someones, whether in person or online. Oh, and let them know #IHugBack!

56 comments

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  1. Mitzi

    “I’ll bet if more and more people offered genuine caring positive thoughts and hugs, even if it’s just online via social media, that it will have a very real physiological and psychological effect” I could not agree with you more my friend. Virtual hugs are just as soothing to the soul as those we get in person. As one who has most friends in the land of virtual-ism, I can attest to the fact that is is quite comforting when someone reaches out and acknowledges your existence. Excellent post! Oh and don’t let me forget…((((HUGS)))) to you and yours…always…

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you, Mitzi. I’ve certainly given and received more virtual hugs from/to you than I have in person. Especially now that you’ve moved to Louisiana. And I agree, they make a difference… especially from dear friends like you!

  2. Rachael

    Well said. It seems to me that much of the reason social media has been the success that it has, is because we are seeking some kind of affirmation. Virtual hug, virtual pat on the back, “I know where you are coming from.” Whatever it is we just want to know that we are not alone and have support.

    I personally am a fan of hugs but not normally an initiator. I’m always afraid of making someone feel uncomfortable. Sometimes that even extends to my online presence.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I used to worry about when giving people real hugs that it might make them uncomfortable, but I now so firmly believe it’s good for them that I do it anyway. I do disengage when they do, of course. I’m not a psycho… well, not much. If I seem too friendly or personal online, they can unfriend me or whatever the given system calls it. I can take a hint. 😉

  3. Brian

    I must admit, I’m not good at virtual hugs. I like your blog, just became a follower. Good to see another daddy blog.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Brian! I’ll definitely stop by your blog when life slows down for a moment. Maybe I need a hug? Hmmm. I’ll def follow your blog and on twitter if I’m not already. I think I am though. Have a great weekend!

  4. Rachel

    I love the idea of a virtual hug! And the phto you picked is perfect! I’ll try to remember your hashtag :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Awww… thanks Rachel (or as my wife often refers to you “Quirky”)! I found after I made up the #IHugBack tag that there’s a #HugBack tag already in use that may have more traction. So use whatever you want or nothing, but do pass on the hugs. It’s good for the soul… both yours and the recipients.

  5. Bruna

    I think hugs – real or virtual- rock! I give them freely and send them via cyberspace. Loved this post!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you so much, Bruna! See, just reading your short positive comment just now made me feel good. It only takes a moment. I hope any readers will take your example and go give someone who needs one (or someone who doesn’t) a hug! :)

  6. Jessica

    This is a great post! I don’t use the word “hug” but I do try and be very supportive to people on Twitter. I know that when I am having a bad day and someone is supportive to me either in person or online it can make me feel so much better.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Jessica! Yeah, one certainly need not use the word hug… the point is that you show you care, listen and are supportive. I guess hugs take many forms, don’t they? I’ve always been able to count on you to be supportive. Hope you have a lovely weekend! :)

  7. Barbara L

    I am great at virtual hugs! Real life hugs, I have been forced to be pretty much a non hugger unless I know the person doesn’t wear perfume. I have asthma and allergies. If someone hugs me their perfume transfers onto me. So, it is not only the initial hit of perfume but I have it on me and can’t get away from it until I change and shower. I love it when someone is “scent free” and I can hug them though.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Barbara, I guess a lot of people have sensitivities like that, but what a pain to have to be so careful. I promise to be scent free when we come to Orlando with our little girl!

      1. Barbara L

        Ha, thanks. One big hug owed to each member of the adaddyblog family! When are you coming down?

        1. Michael Schmid

          My wife is a matron of honor in a cousin’s wedding and my 2 year old a flower girl on our next big trip… so Orlando and Disney World will probably wait until next year, but you never know.

  8. Alex

    I’m a hugger for sure.. I give my son lots of hugs and if someone hugs me on line.. I hug back… I think small things are the ones that matter most.

    Great post Hugs!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I’m not surprised, Alex. And you’re right the “small things” as you say add up and aren’t really so small after all. I get so much pleasure from my friends like you online. Have a lovely weekend!

  9. Deborah

    Like you, I didn’t grow up in a family of huggers, so when I met my future mother in law for the first time and she hugged me I melted! I couldn’t believe that she would hug me just having met me once. I am a big hugger now. I hug my kids friends, I hug my friends. I hug people I have just met. I love this post. I totally agree. Its so important to spread that physical warmth and affection and as you point out, especially now when we communicate less and less in person and more and more via technology.
    Great post!

    1. Michael Schmid

      I am a big hugger now. I hug my kids friends, I hug my friends. I hug people I have just met… Its so important to spread that physical warmth and affection and as you point out, especially now when we communicate less and less in person and more and more via technology.

      I’m so glad your husband’s family won you over to the joys of hugging, Deborah. And clearly I feel the same way. My wife’s late mother was a very warm and loving person. So my wife grew up with that and hugs my daughter even when our 2 year old is in an independent “stop that” mood. :) My dad didn’t hug, but he had two boys… and I guess he thought it was okay to wrestle and rough house, so that gave my brother and I some of the touching we needed. Have a wonderful day!

  10. kelley

    Totally a hugger. I have found that some kindness and affection as innocent as can be freaks some folks out. (I’m talking on line)I try to use words of kindness smoothed out by overt “friendship” and it seems to work. I love that I have several female followers that I can smother without the fear of weirdness. I have to tell you though I have some men I follow that I have learned so much from and that I really appreciate. I just feel like I can’t ever really cut loose for fear I may be misinterpreted as trying to make a move. If not from them then maybe from their wives.

    I will say I love your blog, I appreciate you and your point of view. I love that you love your baby girl and I thank you for all the little discussions your blog has inspired between my better half and me.
    So here is a big fat virtual hug to you from across the country.
    All the best, Kelley

    1. Michael Schmid

      It’s a shame people need to be careful about showing kindness lest it be misinterpreted as something more. I think guys are particularly prone to misunderstanding others intents. I’ve read women (in person) are much better at reading body language and such. All of that said, I’m glad you are a “hugger”. I think it’s great for all involved. Thanks for your kind words about my blog, Kelley. And thanks for the “big fat virtual hug”!

  11. Frelle

    I am affectionate in person, and like to think I am affectionate online too. With words and with *HUG*s :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Actually, I’ve always found you very supportive and friendly online. Sending some virtual *hugs* back at you!

  12. Letters From Home

    *Hugs* to you. I’ve never wrote that to someone in the virtual world but I like your post and I’m going to start doing it. Just like you I grew up in a non-hugging family but my son is always smothered in hugs and kisses. It does make a difference and online I always say supportive things if it seems like they need to hear it, but I’ll try adding on the hug.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Awww… thanks. I’m your first virtual *hug*? Lucky me. :) Of course the important thing is to care and be genuinely supportive, using the word doesn’t matter. In real life, and especially with our kids, the real thing is important.

  13. JDaniel4's Mom

    At the end of a long day a wonderful comment on a post or an e-mail can really make the day end well.

    1. Michael Schmid

      I know what you mean, D. It’s interesting how one can actually convey warmth and caring online. Never fails to surprise and please me.

  14. Shellie

    LOVE this post, Daddy Blogger, and yes, I hug back. :) I also love this image! Can you tell me where it came from and if I could have permission to use it? THANKS!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Shellie. THANK YOU so much. I’ll take a hug any time I can get it, virtual or real. LOL. Hope you’re having a great night. I had this image on my computer, probably saved it years ago and don’t know who created it. I wish I did, as I’d like to get formal permission to use it and give them credit. It really is evocative, no?

  15. Michelle-Nicholle (sunflowerdoula)

    This is great! I was just talking to my husband the other day about how shallow Facebook felt to me. I realized that there was a disconnect for actual interaction even though people are posting all the time. I am now going to go and hug those close and those in the virtual world. Sending hugs from the Blog Support Group: Facebook/Twitter Interaction on Blog Frog

    <a href= "www.sunflowerdoula.blogspot.com" Help! I'm Expecting
    <a href= "www.sunflowerdoula.com" Sunflower Doula
    <a href= "www.townandrivers.blogspot.com" Town and Rivers

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hello Michelle-Nicholle! For some reason I’ve fallen a bit away from Facebook in favor of twitter more recently. I still use both, though, and Facebook and blogs are better for content for which you desire more permanence. As for virtual hugs, for me it’s really just a name I’m giving any caring activity online. It might take the form of a *hug* when someone’s said they are sick or feeling blue… or it might take the form of questions or words of support and caring. It can get a bit impersonal online, but I try my best to not let that happen with my friends. Thank you so much for dropping by.

  16. Shell

    I hug back, too! :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      Yay… more huggers. I love it. Sorry I somehow missed seeing some of these comments. Hope all is grand with you!

  17. Gary@baby shoes

    I don’t “get” facebook/twitter at all if I’m honest. If you want to say something to someone you should pick up the phone.

    1. Michael Schmid

      True, Gary. There’s nothing like real time conversations (in person if possible). Twitter tends to be both a broadcast one to man… and a personal one on one type of medium, but it’s hard to “get” until you’ve used it a while. I say that as someone who didn’t “get” it and now just loves it.

  18. T

    YES! I’m a hugger in real and virtual life! :)

    Nice to “meet” you!

    ((hugs))

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hey… I missed your comment somehow. So sorry. I do try to read them all, and if possible respond. Not everyone is a hugger, and of course (as Gary right above your comment would likely agree) there’s nothing like a real hug… so I’m glad you are hugger in real life but sometimes a virtual hug can mean a lot. It’s my pleasure to meet you! Thanks for dropping by… oh, and *hugs*!

    2. Stone

      Takhns for sharing. Always good to find a real expert.

  19. kristanlynn @ adelynSTONE

    found you via UBP. loved this post. while i’m very affectionate with my kids.. and last to let go with them…. i’m the first to let go when hugging ANYONE else. hah.

    i love the fact that your a dad blogger! stoked to have found you.

    -kristanlynn @ adelynSTONE

    1. Michael Schmid

      Kristanlynn, so nice to meet you! OMG… I started typing this reply about 6 hours ago. My little girl is fast asleep, so I can finally finish. Per your comment, I’m very happy to be found. There are actually a small core group of great daddy blogger… most of whom I now at least a bit. Back to the subject of hugging… I’m so happy your such a big hugger with your kids. It means so much, even with they start to push you away (at 2 and 12+)… don’t stop, they still love it. :)

  20. Annie

    I really enjoyed your post, I’m a hugger too.

    I finally made it over here, love your blog!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Hi Annie,

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I love your blog, too. Anyone reading this should def click on her name above and visit it. I’ll leave you with a quote from it:

      “I have contemplated a well-hoed ridge of potatoes on that bush farm with as much delight as in years long past I had experienced in examining a fine painting.”

      Susanna Moodie
      Roughing It in the Bush, 1852

  21. Jen - Life With Levi

    Genuine, caring responses – you hit the nail on the head. I think it’s super important to reach out to others. Thanks for a great post!

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thanks, Jen. I’m so happy to have met you. I knew you’d appreciate this being a big hugger yourself. :)

  22. humbleddad

    Virtual hugs as real and comforting as the physical kind? Um… that really doesn’t make a lot of sense. Like, you can do without one, but not the other. Cyber ‘hugs’ from people you only know from their avatars/pics are a way to show affection/support/love in a cyber world, which is lovely – but at the end of the day, it’s still just you and your computer. Kind of hollow, no? But whatever gets anyone through the day is all good.

    – hugs

    1. Michael Schmid

      I hear you. A virtual hug will never replace the real thing, but think of this: You are a person isolated in some location where no one around you feels what you feel or understands and supports you. Or perhaps you’re in some war torn country and just need a friendly word of support. Sure it’s not as good as face to face, but it’s way better than none at all.

  23. JDaniel4's Mom

    This is a great idea! I know I have caught you and your wife displaying PDA on Twitter.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Have I been “whispering sweet nothings” to my wife on twitter again? 😉 We once had a mall cop riding one of those Segway’s tell my wife and I to stop kissing behind a big display case at a Dallas Mall. LOL. It wasn’t like we were groping or anything. How do they think that “family mall” gets those families anyway?

  24. Sue Makin

    I just read your blog because of it being on my daughters’ site. I think what my daughter is doing is amazing and I’m very proud of her. The fact that you are taking it online is just as amazing. I am now going to place hugs (especially) on the ones who appear to be having a rough day.

    {{THANK YOU HUG}}

  25. Pam

    Since reading Melinda’s year of hugs, I have a whole new attitude about hugging…..I now send hugs at the end of my posts…and am even giving some–it is a new experience outside of church for me….(I have worked as a minister) but I becoming a firm believer.
    great post. and here is a hug to you and yours.

    1. Michael Schmid

      Thank you so much, Pam. Yes, Melinda’s blog is great. I’m also the newest follower of your “radical ramblings and thoughts of a southern girl”! have a great weekend!

      1. Aaron

        Hey Michael. I also came upon your blog, and this post, after discovering Melinda’s blog. I always sign my internet communications with an e-hug… but it’s almost redundant since virtually everyone who knows me knows I’m a hugging man. More readily though I hug people I know and people I don’t know in the world around me. Internet hugs are great, and I love all forms of offering positive support to people, but there really is no substitute for a real hug – especially a meaningful, well-intentioned, and skillfully given hug. If you are curious by the way to see a blog I’ve started keeping on the hugs I offer, the responses I get, and the observations I make as I’m traveling and hugging people everywhere I go, I invite you to have a glance at my blog thing… http://travelinghugs.wordpress.com/.

        Hug hug hug,
        Aaron

        1. Michael Schmid

          I’m typing on a phone so must be brief. Thx for your comment, Aaron. Just sent it to myself via email so I can read your blog at a later point. Today I’d our girls 4th b’day, so won’t be online much. “Talk” to you soon!

  26. AMotherhoodBlog

    (Hugs) thanks for this post :) I’m a huge hugger on and offline. I think it shows you care and if you were there they would get that hug. There’s nothing wrong with showing people you care if you can’t be there in person :)

    1. Michael Schmid

      I think hugs are more important than people know. Clearly in person hugs (and be the last to let go) are the most important, but I even feel sometimes the online *hugs* have value. Probably varies by recipient, based on how they interpret it. I personally picture a real hug, and the brain responds accordingly with all those comforting chemicals it releases?

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