This past Valentine’s Day, you might’ve seen people walking around campus with bright red bubble lettered-signs and pink-hearted cards, offering up free hugs for anyone who wanted them. The weather came as a sudden shock to our hearts as chills ran up and down our spines, not exactly ideal for Cupid to be out and about. Whether it was the cold wind leaving us with blushing cheeks or not, some students felt the need to share kindness and care on that chilly day.
“We just feel like there is nothing better than to spread love and positivity,” says first-year undeclared student, Michael Watson. He is one of the creators of the YouTube channel Degenerates, which features fellow first-year business marketing major Pedro Jimenez and another student.
Not only did they give out free hugs, but the friends also gave out personally made Valentine’s Day cards, where “we wrote something special for each and every one of you guys,” Jimenez explained in their YouTube video. “This comes from the heart.”
The main reason behind their acts of kindness was to put a smile on someone’s face, no matter who they are or what that person is going through.
“Back from where we come from, that isn’t seen so much, so we stepped outside the box and planned on making a change in people’s lives,” explained Watson. “We just wanted people to see the positivity the world can offer.”
The group decided to go around campus and give out hugs instead of offering candy because they felt like everyone should be given a sense of assurance, “that someone is there for you even though you don’t know,” added Jimenez.
“Honestly, this is gotta be my favorite thing,” Watson spoke in their video as they walked through the Student Union Building. “We really like putting smiles on people’s faces right now. This is really making people’s day.”
The concept of free hugs is nothing new, it became a viral sensation back in the 2000s and has been a social movement ever since. It involves individuals that offer hugs to strangers in public places. The hugs are meant to be random acts of kindness — selfless performances just to make others feel better. There’s even an International Free Hugs Month, which is celebrated on the first of July and lasts until the first day of August.
“When giving hugs to students on campus we also asked them about their days and how their lives are going so far,” said Jimenez. “Their answers and reactions are the only evidence you need to know that asking a person about their day and offering a hug will make their day ten times better.”
Hugging is scientifically proven to release oxytocin, which is also referred as “the cuddle hormone” and it promotes feelings of devotion and trust. When you hug, your stress levels and blood pressure decrease allowing chemicals like dopamine and serotonin to rise. Instead of scarfing down candy like every other year, be sure to engulf someone in a much needed embrace next Valentine’s Day. You’ll guarantee a happier and healthier time for all.