Updated: May 27
Remember when it was a thing to stand in the street and give FREE hugs? I am told that YouTube videos went viral of people from all walks of life standing on the street giving FREE hugs.
FREE Hugs was actually a real campaign. It was started by Juan Mann in June 2004, when he began giving out hugs in central Sydney. Leading up to this Mann had been feeling depressed and lonely. He states that a random hug from a stranger made an enormous difference.
In 2006 his movement took off when the group Sick Puppies coupled footage of Mann giving FREE hugs, shot by band member Shimon Moore, with their song All the Same. View here.
This was all happening in 2006 while I was living in Russia. This campaign caught my attention in August 2016 when a friend told me about a blindfolded Muslim man in Israel with a sign that said: "I'm an Arab and I love you. Hug me if you love me back". Watch here what happened.
In October 2016 there was another experiment in Israel involving the coordinated efforts of one Arab and on Jew. You can see what happened here too.
If you are anything like me, these videos may have you tearing up with joy and hope, both of which we can surely fill up on in these days. My interpretation of these activities is solidarity and raised awareness of interdependence.
In 2018 myself and two other amazing women, were tasked with creating an experiment in Rome. Something we had not done before, interacting with as many people we did not know as possible, and making a video – simultaneously. The result, our very own version of FREE hugs in central Rome at 11 pm. An excerpt from our video leads this post.
Keith (friend from Social distancing Vladivostok visit post) could be one of the greatest huggers I have ever met. His idea, hugs heal. Amen soul brother.
While we are being told that even handshaking should no longer be a norm post Corona virus, I for one am looking forward to the day I hug again, friends and strangers alike.
Meanwhile, today, this minute, send someone you love a hug – forward them this link and hug them virtually.