Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Youth Of Today: They Hug One Another With Abandon

Hot off the presses of our nation's paper of record: teenagers hug each other. Even the boy kind! No! It cannot beeeeeeeeee!

Our intrepid reporter Sarah Kershaw ventures boldly into the halls of Pascack Hills High in Montvale, New Jersey, where she is informed by junior Danny Schneider that gender as we know it has ceased to exist.

“We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” said Danny Schneider, a junior at the school, where hallway hugging began shortly after 7 a.m. on a recent morning as students arrived. “The guy friends, we don’t care. You just get right in there and jump in.”

And it's not just in New Jersey. All across the nation, the flower of manhood are bravely flinging their arms around one another, risking the ire of school administrators.

[S]chools from Hillsdale, N.J., to Bend, Ore., wary in a litigious era about sexual harassment or improper touching — or citing hallway clogging and late arrivals to class — have banned hugging or imposed a three-second rule.

Youth vs. authority! Shifting social norms! My God, it's a trend! We have here the elements of a newspaper story. But it's not really meaty enough for the New York Times. To make it worthy of the Grey Lady, we have to know: Will somebody make some sciencey noises for us? Is there a pop-culture buzzword? Can we make an incredibly awkward reference to hip-hop culture? And can we blame it on the Facebook?

But Amy L. Best, a sociologist at George Mason University, said


The prevalence of boys’ nonromantic hugging (especially of other boys) is most striking to adults. Experts say that over the last generation, boys have become more comfortable expressing emotion, as embodied by the MTV show “Bromance,” which is now a widely used term for affection between straight male friends.


But some sociologists pointed out that African-American boys and men have been hugging as part of their greeting for decades, using the word “dap” to describe a ritual involving handshakes, slaps on the shoulders and, more recently, a hug, also sometimes called the gangsta hug among urban youth.

Er, check.

“Maybe it’s because all these kids do is text and go on Facebook so they don’t even have human contact anymore,” said Dona Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls at the high school in Montvale.

Okay, we're done here.


  1. Thank goodness government is stepping in with tax breaks to save our great nation from the loss of such print journalism! To think we otherwise might never have been informed about this plague of affection polluting the youth of tomorrow... *where does it end?*

  2. "Will somebody make sciencey noises for us?"

    I always wonder where they find these "experts." I picture bored adjunct professors sitting in windowless offices, waiting in silent and unused misery till they get that big call from the NYT lifestyle hag. Then they know they've MADE IT.

  3. My former sociology professor wrote a textbook. Somehow, publishing a moderately popular academic textbook on families has made him a celebrity among the 4th estate. He says every time a high-profile divorce, child abuse story or study comes to light, his phone rings off the hook. Despite the fact that he has no first-hand experience with the topic of the article. He says he is tired of talking with USA Today.
    Although I hate the "sciency noises + Facebook + national anecdotal evidence culled by interns" format of this article, I gotta say, I AM SO WEIRDED OUT BY HUGGING. In that way, I'm glad SOMEBODY addressed it. My peer group is at least 10 years older than the kids in the story, but we suffer from some "needless hugging" behavior as well. I would like you to address this issue: if NYT journalists are not the people to address Small Weirdnesses (such as hugging), who IS?! Personally, I think a Miss Manners / Fran Liebowitz hyrbid could do this specific issue justice.