In the age of social media, who do you hug?

“Dude, I know you like my tweets, but let’s start with a handshake and see where this goes.”

I am an awkward hugger.  My problem is I don’t know who to hug.  I’m not opposed to hugging, as a practice.  I’m just very sensitive to invading someone else’s space.  Family and old friends get a hug. That’s a no-brainer…  although, manly friends and family are a little hard to figure out at times.  I have an inconsistent hugging record with most the men I know, but hugging is not the foundation of those relationships, so it’s not a big deal.

New friends and people I know through other people are my main problem areas.  There is that horrendously uncomfortable moment when such a person joins a gathering and begins to greet and hug everyone else they know better than me.  My mind immediately begins to assess the situation.  Are we at the hugging level?  If I lead with a hug, and they expect a handshake we’ll both disappear into some kind of social vortex of cumbersome regret.  If I lead with a handshake and they expect a hug, I will appear cold and aloof, maybe even overtly hostile.

Inevitably when the person reaches me, there is a clumsy pause followed by me leading with an extended hand that is held wide enough to be converted into a one-armed hug should their approach suggest they expect a friendly embrace.    The conversion is not smooth and there is usually a chuckle by everyone at my expense.   To which I respond with a smile and sheepishly remove myself from any further contact with the recipient of my hybrid shake/hug.  Thereby ensuring that we will never extend our relationship beyond the perimeter of the occasional get-together and at the same time guaranteeing we will forever dwell at the nexus of uncomfortable greetings.

I bring this up because it occurred to me at a party yesterday (where most the people in attendance received the shake/hug from me) that there is an entire virtual universe of people I now have to worry about when it comes to unwieldy greetings.  I’m referring to those folks I only know through social media.  Up until now, it has only happened at book signings and appearances where 99% of the people expect a handshake.  The other one percent initiates the hug and removes me from all responsibility in the greeting conundrum. But, I fear there will be a time in my future where I will meet my social media “friends” at some event or function where there is no book as a greetings buffer.  What then?  Do the people in my social media circles merit hugs?  Or, more accurately, do they want a hug from me?  Is it valid for me to invade their space?

I’m R.W. Ridley and this is the crap that keeps me up at night.

The Lion Video With Almost 7 Million Views in a Little Over 30 Days

This video has taken off like… well a lion chasing a zebra. Be warned. It’s not for everybody. It has moved many viewers to tears it’s so terrifying.

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