The creators of a YouTube video are challenging people to hug strangers, and they hope their video will go viral.
It started as a project for a Clemson University advertising class, but in the process, students learned something unexpected about human nature.
For many, since grade school, we're told to "keep your hands to yourselves." Eventually, most people do. The video depicted what an upstate psychologist describes as the human need for touch.
Clemson juniors Katie Flack, Elisabeth Peters, and Anna Koker, said they went into making the video expecting it to be a funny joke sort of video, with the loudest, craziest folks, making a show of hugging everyone. They said it turned into an interesting and sweet test of humanity.
When their advertising teacher posed a "viral video challenge," the possibilities were endless to try to get the most views on a YouTube video.
Flack suggested the "hugging random people" theme, because she'd been dared to do it once and she thought it was funny.
"We were a little bit apprehensive about what type of response we were going to get because we were asking people to go hug strangers which isn't something that we do on a normal basis," said Peters.
For the video, the team offered glass bottles of Coke, but they found that the reward was much more than eight ounces of Coca-Cola Classic.
"Letting other people know that they're cared about, just by a simple hug. They don't have to say anything to them, they don't have to sit down and have a conversation. If they just hug them, they know that somebody out there is caring about them," said Flack.
That desire for human interaction and touch is expected, according to upstate psychologist Dr. Roger Rhoades.
"We're emotionally stifled as a race, because we don't touch as much, and they're going to notice that people who touch more are happier, have better relationships," Rhoades said.
He said touch usually comes from trust and leads to bonding. This unexpected hugging experiment likely threw people off because people don't usually like being vulnerable.
The Clemson team said they saw that hugs were often welcomed warmly.
Flack and Peters remembered one man who hugged a girl and she told him that she really needed a hug because she was having a bad day.
"That was cool to see that people actually really wanted a hug and were looking for that type of thing," said Peters.
The team said the day they filmed, they got folks to give and get 300 hugs. They said some folks were hesitant, but the willing huggers far outweighed the non-huggers. They said many people were willing to hug without even getting their Coca-Cola reward.
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