In the opening vignette for Chapter 3: Culture in SOC I talk about Juan Mann’s “Free Hugs” campaign. I had an earlier post about the campaign, Break-a-Norm Day: Free Hugs, and the original video that kicked off the Internet craze is here: Free Hugs Campaign.

The official site is FreeHugsCampaign.org.

I was curious to learn what else was out there since my original post. Now there’s a link there to The Illustrated Guide to Free Hugs. Juan Mann, the person that started it all, also has a MySpace page and there’s a Facebook group, “A Campaign for Free Hugs” that lists Juan Mann as the first officer.

There is also a link to a Flickr site that includes Free Hugs pictures from around the world. They also include links to Free Hugs videos from around the world. I find the international dimension of the Free Hugs campaign to be really fascinating. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences in how people respond in different nations.

DNAIndia.com has a report from about a recent free hug campaign there by Vinit Mehta, “How the Mumbai hugger went national,” that has expanded from his initial efforts to spread to four other Indian cities. They report:

Overwhelmed by the fact that his campaign is finally being noticed by youngsters from other cities, he remembers his first few days as a campaigner on Colaba Causeway. “It was slightly embarrassing in the beginning, given the fact that as Indians, we are not very open to physical contact with strangers,” he says. People looked at him with cynical glares, laughed at this teen’s attempt at a free hug. But a friendly embrace by a foreign couple finally set the campaign pacing. Locals followed, and thus began the journey.

And of course there is a YouTube video of his Free Hug experience:

And then there’s this somewhat strange report about a different kind of use of the Free Hugs campaign that doesn’t really seem to fit with the spirit of the original campaign: “HBO Sells Promotional Shirts with Free Hugs.” A more extensive report on the HBO campaign is available here: “HBO Gives Hugs in Peace Sign Campaign“.

According to the Wiki page, which includes a nice collection of links and good background information, the 3rd official International Free Hugs Day is scheduled for July 4, 2009.

P.S. I have to confess that the original video still brightens my day every time I watch it.

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