I take issue with a saying written on the walls of one of our buildings on campus: “Make a new friend. Hug a stranger.”
Don’t even think about it.
It’s not that I don’t like hugs. I actually love them – but I’m one of those weird, don’t-touch-me-and-I-won’t-punch-you-in-the-face people. I’m not a close talker. And I don’t like people I’m not close with to touch me. In any way. In other words, HANDS OFF!
I can’t imagine what I’d do if some random stranger walked up to me, hugged me, and then said, “Hello, friend.” Actually, he probably wouldn’t get to the speaking part because he’d already be on the ground.
And, yes, I get the greater point of the message of, “Hey, be nice to someone today.” But can’t we put that instead of something encouraging creeps to rejoice? (And, yes, there are probably some sane people in that category, but let’s be honest: sane people are few and far between. I’m not sane. Obviously.)
The designers of this building wrote the saying on the wall – it was not graffiti written by some random student. It was purposeful and included with several other words of wisdom…words of wisdom? Wait, they may need to rethink that.
It’s different when you see a sign for a campus ministry that says “Free hugs!” Actually, that’s kinda neat. They’re offering hugs; you can choose to say yes to a hug (therefore knowing of it in advance) or say no (if you still are a bit creeped out by hugging a stranger). That’s sweet. Randomly going up to a stranger and hugging them? Not so much.
See, this is why journalists need to rule the world. We teach our students to think of every conveyed meaning in headlines, in stories, in pictures to make sure that people can’t make something more of our writing than what it is.
Again, like I said, I get the greater meaning behind the message. Make love, not war; don’t worry, be happy; blah blah blah.
But it doesn’t mean that it was presented well. Or that I have to like it.