Monday, 26 March 2012

Sending you {{hugs}}!! Luv ya! xoxoxox (and the culture of encouragement)


I wrote this piece on Facebook in 2010, before I started to use Twitter, and still feel much the same way....


Since texting became part of our lives, have you begun to feel that any message to a friend without at least one ‘x’ on the end looks naked – or abrupt, or even rude?  So much so that you almost put one on the end of a hurried note left on your boss’s desk?  I have, and I am annoyed with myself about it...

A friend texts you to confirm an arrangement.  So you text back ‘See you later x’.  Okay, in this instance the ‘x’ implies ‘and I am looking forward to doing so’.  But why does just ‘See you later’ look almost dismissive?  And why, increasingly, does every comment on a Facebook status update have to end in an ‘x’, even the ones that disagree with what you’re saying?  Is it supposed to convey ‘I think you’re talking bollocks and I am telling you so, but I still like you/want you to like me’ ?

Why do I feel guilty if I don’t end practically every Facebook private message with at least one ‘x’?  I don’t want to kiss you.  I don’t want to kiss any of you.  I don’t want to hug you either – and that’s another thing.  Why can’t anyone greet anyone these days without throwing their arms around each other?  There are very, very few people I want to hug.  Back in the olden days when I was a young 'un, my girlfriends and I managed to get through without any physical contact whatsoever.  But in the last 10-15 years there seems to have arisen this culture of over the top affection, for everyone.   Yes, I might want to give a quick hug to members of my family who I have not seen for a long time, or to a really good friend after a particularly joyful weekend, etc.  Maybe.  But I’m not Italian.  I like you, I love being in your company, I hope we’ll always be great friends, but I don’t want to hug and kiss you.  I’m English.  I don’t even hug my sister.  What would we want to do that for?  

A while back I was reading a literary publisher’s opinion about the many creative writing courses available these days, for those who fancy themselves the next J K Rowling, George R R Martin, Douglas Kennedy, Sophie Kinsella, or whoever.  He said that the main problem with these courses/workshops was that in today’s culture of encouragement, no matter to what standard a piece had been written, the writer would usually only receive positive comments – rendering this critique pointless, as it gives an inaccurate impression to the writer of the standard expected by literary agents/publishers.  This ‘culture of encouragement’ seems to have become widespread.  I tell you, since I’ve been putting photographs on Facebook, not only am I virtually hugged all the time, but I’ve never had so many compliments in my life.  This isn’t because I AM stunning, but because these days women seem to think they have to bolster each other’s confidence up all the time by telling each other they’re gorgeous.  You know, in Dove advertisement styleee.  Yes yes, we’re all so beautiful, even if we are middle aged and overweight with, frankly, rather commonplace features, aren’t we???  Of course, when you receive outrageous compliments, you feel you have to give them back.  If I don’t tell a friend that she looks ‘knock-out’ or ‘fantastic’, I feel almost bitchy.  I try not to fall into the trap; if I see a photo in which someone looks particularly nice, I tell them.  But I will probably say “Love this one of you" rather than “WOW!!  Stunning!!”  Few people are stunning.   Are we all so insecure that we need this constant boost of love and approval all the time?

Please note, I am not criticising individuals here, I am remarking on this trend that seems to have grown up of late, in which there are so many kisses, hugs (both real and virtual) and compliments that they have lost their impact.  So, friends of mine, please don’t feel the need to end every text telling me what time your train gets in, for instance, with a kiss.  You don’t need to tell me I’m gorgeous; I’m probably gorgeous to the man who loves me, and that’s about it; and even then not always.  I’m just an ordinary person who looks quite nice sometimes.  And, next time I meet you, can we just say hi and look pleased to see one another without doing that huggy thing?  There, aren’t you relieved you don’t have to do it now, either??!

16 comments:

  1. So true! Btw, have I told you lately that you are quite stunning? Well, you are! XOXO

    Sorry, I couldn't resist (big grin)

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  3. Am revisiting this because one of my online friends received the following message, meant in all seriousness as an insult...

    "why don't you just go away you retard xx"

    Now I know this is the thing I'm guilty of when having a pop at a friend but insults had been traded for a couple of days and this was a parting shot!

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  4. Brilliant blog. Remember at school you never EVER hugged, kissed or touched anyone for any reason whatsoever for fear of being shunned by various homophobes. Now, it's gone to the other extreme. Never felt comfy hugging someone I'd only just met, espcially at business meetings. But it's all the rage now.

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  5. Excellent TT, I'm going to share this in a move to REmove some of the goo from my Facebook page. I've always been uncomfortable with all the hyper gushy emotional stuff, but you sort of get sucked into it, don't you? I feel I have. There are a few people who don't do it and I'm so relieved to have just normal interaction with them on FB, but mostly it's an effort to make sure there are enough hearts, kisses and hugs not to offend people. So stressful ...haha! I remember for the first few years on FB, I used to actively avoid using Xs and as for the hearts, my response was 'oh come on!!', but it seems now they're the new 'like' and a simple thumbs up isn't enough. Thanks for pointing me to this! Really enjoyed it!

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    1. I know what you mean about being sucked into it. I don't do the hearts stuff, or that many kisses, but I do love emojis, I have to say. They can sometimes save a dry comment from being insulting ;)

      One of the other things I've noticed on Facebook (which I loathe the more I use it; I've been doing so a bit more lately and had forgotten how ghastly it is), is the trading of 'likes'. If I 'like' someone's status update (because it's nice, amusing, whatever), the next time I update I always get a 'like' back from them. I mean, wtf, are we 14, or something??!!

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  6. Funny! If you had grown up in Texas instead of England...you'd be used to the huggy thing. And to being "Sugar," "hon," and "Sweetheart" to the wait staff.

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    1. All I can say is thank goodness I wasn't, Stephanie - I don't mind endearments. As long as they don't come across patronising :)

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  7. 'My dear' is my pet hate. Especially from'posh' middle aged and older women. Can't stand it and always answer with "don't my dear me; I'm not your'my dear' So patronising. Oh, and I do hug Husband, some of my family and four of my friends. And yes, Facebook is getting worse. Can't stand those posts on illnesses/ crap days/ operations. Don't tell me!! Which reminds me... once had a letter from the cousin who does the 'round robins' at Christmas with pictures and description of her latest operation. Don't ask why I added that; think I've gone off at a tangent. Which gives me an idea for the book I'm in the middle of. Bye, Terry (no kisses)

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    1. I detest Facebook, if it wasn't for keeping in touch with cousins from various parts of the world and old friends from whom I've moved away, I'd delete my profile. That's hilarious about the round robin letter (one of my pet hates - such vanity! I also hate those 'happy new year, love from Joe, Myra and the kids' texts that people send out to every contact on their phone. My brother sent me one once. I texted back, if you can't spare two minutes to sent a proper text to me, please don't bother at all.

      I feel we are singing from the same hymn sheet, generally, Judith :^D

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  8. Think we are. Mind you, as a Humanist, Terry, mine's a song book!!<3

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    1. I'm not 'an' anything, but I don't believe in all that formal Christianity bollocks, either!!

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    2. Which is probably what I mean as well. Think we can only be what we are. Mind you, our characters can be racist, misogynist evil, psychotic bastards...then we can kill 'em off! Very cathartic. Off to write again. Cheers

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