Please don’t hug me


Watching daytime soaps is my guilty pleasure.*

If you share this affliction, then by now you have seen, oh maybe 1500 times, the fluffy, sentimental  commercial that says and sings, in voice-over and with words on the screen “hugs have been proven to boost your baby’s immune system.”

The best ads (we were told in Advertising school) create a compelling visual, associate a feel-good emotion with the product, and in the best case scenario, the product name ( in this case Huggies diapers) is reinforced in the message over and over through various devices.  Hugs are good for you.  Therefore Huggies are good for you.  Word association. Product name. Hugs feel good, Huggies must be good too.

Buy Huggies.

Make your baby feel good and improve his immune system.

Now, I have nothing against hugs.  Especially for babies.  I am expecting my first grandchild in December and I plan to hug the stuffing out of her at every opportunity.

But personally, in my day-to-day adult world I am not a hugger, so my immune system is probably severely compromised.

Here is the junk science that started this hugging-to-stay-healthy silliness:

Huffington Post ballyhooed the ‘research findings’ and of course the whole thing went viral.  Now it’s helping sell diapers.
Anybody can fund a study about anything, provided they have the money and can find a research facility to do the work.  Hypothetically, (and cynically) if you are a scientist being paid by Huggies to find that hugs are good for you (and how hard is that) bada bing you now have a scientific fact.
Except here’s the catch.
Wasn’t it just a few years ago people were walking around bumping elbows instead of shaking hands during flu season because personal contact through shaking hands spreads cold and other viruses?
Some who were on the bump-receiving  beginning of this trend came to the conclusion that this elbow thing was some quirk associated with the then-popular Asperger’s Syndrome.
Geez, if handshakes cause epidemics, hugging might mean the end of civilization.
Read the article a little more closely. (Which apparently nobody ever does, which is how these internet ‘truths’ spread like, well, the common cold.)
It’s the little words like hugging “might” help ward off sickness that show how bogus these junk science ‘studies’ are.
In their own press release, the researchers acknowledge that the hugging is an expression of “support” and it is the perception of support, not the hug itself, which reduces stress.
It is stress-reduction, not the hug itself, that wards off illness.
Since “a behavioral indicator of support” for me personally is not a hug, more hugs aren’t going to do a thing for me in the stress department.  Assuming stress lowers your immune system response like the Internet says it does, hugging me is going to make me stressed and therefore more susceptible to sickness.
So get out of my face.

Especially during cold season.

* Here’s the plot synopsis for today’s General Hospital: “Confrontations abound and feelings are hurt.”  They could save a lot of time and effort by just putting that on every soap synopsis every day.




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