The ISM Report, ‘Noo Emotions’, tracks the evolution of our emotional life in the age of social networking, which includes the new kinds of hugging visible everywhere. Just like which will give you a virtual hug…a vlug?


Its Youtube page describes its interests as, ‘Being nice. Making people smile. Hopefully at the same time.’ Modest yet ambitious, is a website showing people hugging the camera, encouraging video uploads from around the world in which people send their good vibes, eventually hugging the viewer behind the screen.


The first ISM Report (Image Source Monitor, a visual intelligence unit) reports on the new emotions and new language of ‘hugging’. As author Stephen King notes in his new time travel novel, 11.22.63 (number 2 on The New York Times bestseller list) men hugging in the 1950s was not a gesture that people would really have recognized. His lead character from 2011, who finds himself in the late 1950s allows himself one slip when hugging a male friend at a particularly emotional moment. Now the hug, and its many variations, are everywhere.


And while images of hugging sell well, even men hugging, signaling relationships along a spectrum from sports-like camaraderie, to the bromance, there is still uncertainty around the hug as an expression of emotion.


The ISM report identifies ‘the Crug’ which is a mixture of crying and hugging, (really overtop emotional display, real and fake, very contemporary) an increasingly familiar image on reality TV, awards ceremonies and TV talent shows.  And ‘the Shug’, the soft hug, which you’ll recognize at every political summit where politicians greet each other with a hug whose pretence at intimacy that only underlines the lack of warmth and feeling. Even the traditional hug has become more self-conscious. more expressive of its formality and ritual.


Image Source. Self-aware hugging


Image Source. Group Hug has taken digital intimacy to a new level. Being hugged by strangers over the internet? No stranger than Facebook friending. If the Man Hug has passed into the visual lexicon of everyday life, the final frontier may be the man-cuddle?


For more on the ISM Report and to read our visual trend forecast






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