Waving off That Hug


A few days ago, I wrote a blog about the importance of touch and how I had just come from a festival in the South and we all hugged each other.

It was kind of tone-deaf, wasn’t it?

And, if I didn’t think so, my readers certainly pointed it out.

I respect those who want to keep a distance and I would never force a hug on someone looking to take protective action. And if you are immune-compromised, or live with someone who is, I would hope you would not be out at festivals anyway.

For the rest of us…

I had two things in mind when I wrote that last blog.

The first was a conversation I had with a friend who worked for the World Health Organization. This was about the time that dish soap, hand soap, everything was antibacterial. Our homes were as sterile as we could make them.

“We’re screwing ourselves,” he said to me. “Germs always win, they just adapt. The trick is to expose yourself safely, not to bubble-wrap yourself.”

The second thing on my mind was what it felt like after 9/11 when I lived in D.C. There were those frozen into a kind of life paralysis by fear of the next attack. The dangers of terrorism were real, not imaginary, and there were those who refused to fly, refused to go to public places. But, there was a band of people who said, “If we don’t live our lives, the terrorists win.” I was in that last bunch.

My blog argued for hugging. I still argue for hugging. Social distancing is another kind of death for me, but I am not arguing for being reckless. In fact, I am likely to miss a dear aunt’s funeral because I am reluctant to fly and attend – not for myself so much (although that may play into it as the virus worsens) but for the elderly attending the funeral. I don’t particularly want to be a carrier any more than a victim.

There is a calculus when something like this happens to us. It’s a risk-benefit judgment. Is the risk of social contact with healthy people death-defying? Is the virus lurking like the potential terrorists after 9/11?

Where you fall on that risk-benefit analysis is completely personal. What my blog was trying to say – not well enough that it didn’t piss off a whole bunch of people, apparently – is that you need to factor the need for human touch and social interaction into that calculation of risks and benefits. Whatever you decide, after weighing all the risks and benefits, good for you. Stay well.

woman wearing face mask

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com


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