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ruthless compassion
13 December 2005 @ 10:32 am
I've been using the net, especially chat systems, as one of my primary tools of social contact for more than a decade (yes, I came to it late. blah, blah.) One of the habits I picked up through irc was little descriptors of actions surrounded by stars: *laugh* or *grin* or *hugs*

I like these, and I think they make my online interactions a little more complete, because I can signal, in conversation, where I would laugh if it were a face-to-face interaction, for example. But there's one I struggle with: *hugs*

Offering hugs in a face-to-face situation is meaningful and significant. A hug can signal any number of things: support, sympathy, excitement. And there's a bit of a tendency to use it for the same thing online, especially, I've noticed, here on LJ. In fact, a lot of times, someone's entire response to a post will be *hugs*. And while a hug may feel like a complete response to something in person, I find them fairly empty online, when not accompanied by other context. Don't have anything else to say? Try *hugs*!

Therefore, I've been conducting a little lj experiment with myself for a few months: no *hugs*. Whenever someone writes a post where my first reaction is *hugs*, I think about what it is I really want to say, and try to put it into words. Sometimes it's more successful than others, but it's certainly been interesting for me, and, I think, has meant an improvement in the quality of my comments, at least from my point of view.