Who doesn’t need a hug every now and again? Melissa Chow, MIT student and the inventor of the new Like-A-Hug, has made hugging easier. Like-A-Hug is a new “social media vest” that inflates to make the wearer feel like they are being hugged every time they receives a "Like" on Facebook. Yes, it is a vest that loves you back. You can even send a hug back by hugging the vest. It’s just that easy.
The vest is meant to bring the wearer closer to their friends, and it probably does in a kind of creepy not so virtual way. In reality though, it seems to do just the opposite. In this day and age, our dependency on technology is becoming evermore evident; we are slowly becoming less social. It seems like millennials are more willing to take virtual encouragement than actually find the time to foster more personal friendships.
We have allowed social media to become a primary part of how we communicate with friends and family. The days of phone calls, visits, and quality time seem farther and farther in the past. It is far easier to log on and post a status, or click "Like" to your heart’s content. We want to be instantly gratified, and yes, it is gratifying. It is satisfying to sign on and see that you have notifications and messages, but they do not equal the love and encouragement we actually need.
The primary purpose of social media is to be used as a tool for sharing interesting news, pictures, memes, or whatever else your heart fancies. It also doubles over as a great way to connect with friends who you probably wouldn’t have talked to ever again after high school. It has helped millions of people create their internet personalities, or the person they want others to perceive them as on the online. However, that is all the person on the other side sees.
Social media does have merit though. It makes it easier for users to stayed informed, to share news, events, and organizations of interest. It has helped activists unite, noble causes to become wide-scale issues, and creates a way to communicate even when you are thousands of miles away from the people you love. It has been a wonderful tool in many instances, but the dependency on it has become a more pronounced issue.
While being able to receive a hug with just a click seems appealing, it will never be as gratifying as the real thing. It may be comfortable to sit behind the computer screen and bask in the virtual love, but there is a great wide world right outside. Millennials have to be willing to work on these relationships, put in time, and let down their guards a little bit. The love, encouragement, and support that each of us craves will only come if we allow ourselves to be open to it.