I ran across this article on Facebook the other day and almost shared it, but then decided, because I had more to say on it than just “THIS” I should wait and and do a small blog post on it. There’s an inherent risk in doing that because sometimes when you put off writing about something, the ship sails and you can’t get it back. But since I have a little bit of time this morning before I take Anna out to the horse barn, I’m amazing myself by actually following up. For those of you that know me well, the epitaph on my tombstone will undoubtedly be “Oh yeah. I was gonna do that.” Here’s the article – click on the link to go to it.
The gist of the article is that the photo at right, showing the newly re-elected President Obama embracing his campaign manager Jim Messina (no not that Jim Messina) reflects how the culture has shifted when it comes to straight men hugging each other. I cannot possibly overstate how much this concept pleases me. I am sick to death of the idea that straight men cannot feel very fondly about each other, even going as far as to say that they feel a platonic type of love for one another, without there being a gay subtext. I feel like it’s getting incrementally better as time goes by, but still, the stigma exists.
As men, it’s been socialized completely out of us – or at least almost completely. The story contained in the article just killed me. I’ll reproduce it here for those of you who did not click on the link.
In 1968, I stood on the airport tarmac as my close friend bid farewell to his best friend who had been drafted and was bound for Vietnam. We were teenagers at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, steeped in sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. And yet – despite our songs of freedom and even as the spectreI of death hung over the parting – the two pained young men chose manliness over emotion and shook hands goodbye.
Granted, this was 1968 and times were very different then. However, I did read one article that maintains Obama’s reelection is actually a final vindication of the 60s counterculture. So the times are more entangled than you might initially expect on first examination.
I’d like to submit for debate that choosing to hug your close male friends – the brothers from another mother, if you will – is the manlier choice than shaking hands or not doing anything at all. Why is it manlier? Because despite what the article says, how the culture has shifted, there’s still a certain degree of hesitancy. Maybe that’s Midwestern – I don’t know. I’d be curious to know what men on the coasts think. If the POTUS can do it, what in the hell is keeping all of us – especially those of us who voted for him – from doing the same for those we care about deeply?
I’m not really ashamed to admit that I invest pretty heavily into friends. Maybe that’s an introvert thing – we tend to put our eggs in a few baskets, vs. extroverts who have eggs in baskets all over the place. I’ll take a handful of really honest friendships over 100 acquaintances any day of the week. It’s one of the reasons that Facebook exhausts me. Too many people that I know only superficially. I would rather talk one-on-one with someone over coffee or beers or a meal than try to navigate a party with 25 people.
So my challenge to every man out there, should they choose to accept it, is to increase your hugging by even 5%. Human touch is a crucially underappreciated antidepressant. I think it’d do the world a whole lot of good.