Facebook’s Fake Hug

22nd October, 2012 - 3 minutes read

A new wearable vest has been created which inflates giving you a “hug” whenever someone “likes” you on Facebook. The recipient can then send the “hug” back by deflating the jacket. The Facebook jacket created by Melissa Kit Chow supposedly “allows us to feel the warmth, encouragement, support and love that we feel when we received hugs”.

The project was developed to push the possibilities of social media and allow the sense of touch to be experienced in virtual environments. It was developed with long distance relationships in mind as services such as skype were seen to have limited personal
interaction.

This isn’t the first time the Facebook “like” has been implemented in clothing. Brazilian clothing store C&A embedded a digital “like” counter into it’s clothes hangers. This then tracked the most popular items from an image gallery on it’s Facebook page.

This mechanical hug is definitely pushing the boundaries of social media but I doubt it’s bringing much to the table in terms of social interaction. Are we going down a slippery slope when too much attention is given to virtual relationships, that we feel the need to invent ways of showing affection?

Recently I watched a tea advert which poked fun at social media sites within the realm of friendship. It’s centres on a woman who has just landed her dream job and is about to take to social media to get it out there. She then realises that the quality of her responses would be a murmur of “thats totes amazing” “omg LOL” and a smiley face from people she’s barely spoken to in months and those she doesn’t know. She then decides on inviting friends around for a cuppa and a catch up. The advert was powerful and unique merely because it showed people meeting up in reality as opposed to over the internet. Wow who’d have thought?

Social media is proven to help spark business interest but in the social sphere is it becoming more detrimental by taking over real communication? What will happen if you get multiple “likes” at once? Will there soon be a jacket which pokes you or spontaneously combusts if someone de-friends you? Either way I won’t be trawling Amazon for one, Ironically this jacket is pretty unsocial!

This may just be an art project but it raises some important questions about our reliance on social media. If a relationship needs to be translated through quirky digital devices, is it really a relationship at all? The question needs to be asked, are these “innovations” blurring the line between reality and virtual or is it just a bit of fun? How far is Facebook going to go?