Has the world become more touchy feely?
When I arrived in America in 1997, very few people would kiss their friends on their cheeks to say hello or goodbye. I remember that at my first job, there was a co-worker who moving to another state and we had a little farewell party for her. I shook her hand and gave her the 2 kiss treatment, which is very popular in Brazil. She froze for a second, puzzled with my audacity and invasion of her personal space. Even though I knew some Americans felt uncomfortable with that gesture, I kept it going with everyone I met. After a few years, I noticed that more and more Americans were adopting this habit. Now everyone is kissing! Did I start a trend? I don’t think I was the only one of course. I think the wave of more recent immigrants from South and Central America brought on the habit.
Besides kissing, people are hugging more. Notice how people who were just introduced or who work together take pictures now: everyone has their arms around each other. If you look at group pictures from only 20 years ago, people usually stood side by side without touching any body part.
Nowadays, you don’t know who is a couple and who isn’t based on pictures. Hugging and having your arms around someone from the opposite sex was reserved for couples. They say people from Germanic, Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon origin have more issues with public displays of affection. I still think White Americans are not so passionate with their lovers in public, but they seem to have adopted the 2 kisses and the hugging people you hardly know in pictures quite well.
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