Look at this girl. She seems perfectly happy and content, what with her working phone, face free of terribly unsightly pores and braces, and if the New York Times' caption is to be believed, she's an honors student as well. Who would have thought that her life is in grave and gruesome danger from a double-sided blade of debauchery?

When I was in school, teachers were worried about alcohol and marijuana. Before that, it was gangs and radicalization, and before that it was spitballs or whatever Eddie got the Beaver to do that week. Now, our youth are faced with menaces that would send even the most hardened of deviants reeling back in shock.

Hugs and texts.

While that sinks in, let me thank the New York Times for the sort of reporting that our nation needs, the sort of careful exaggeration of youthful trends and a keen eye for trying to create interest-boosting controversy. Do people hug more often? Sure, they definitely do. But it's this new hugging, this wanton, newfangled way of greeting that's probably to blame for all of that music downloading and sex stuff.

"It was needless hugging — they are in the hallways before they go to class. It wasn’t a greeting. It was happening all day."

These are the words of Noreen Hajinlian, a principal of a junior high school in New Jersey who had the foresight to ban hugs two years ago. Now, I know the article in the Times goes on to quote some folks as to why this hugging phenomenon is a natural result of children being more close-knit to particular groups, and suggests that perhaps it stems from a primal need for human contact after sitting in front of screens for the majority of their waking hours, but c'mon. You know where this is going to lead to.

Some parents are going to get concerned that their kids are hugging other kids, that their boys might be hugging other boys and thereby being transformed into homosexuals who eat American flags and their girls will sit beneath red lights during the wee hours of the night. And they'll whine to school boards, who will follow in Hajinlian's stupid footsteps and kick hugging on the curbside. While the story is very popular (it's the most emailed article out of everything on the Times' website) it's interesting only with an asterik.

There's a point at which something becomes so common that it doesn't neccesarily need reporting, because once something like "teengage hugging" or "tegging" as some local news anchor may call it is brought into light by the mainstream media, people freak out about it and immediately see it as a terrible problem. But if you're paying attention to your kids, shouldn't you know they're hugging more frequently? I picked up on it once I came to Elon, and I've noticed it from the schools back at my house. It just seems as though this is just another case of the media trying to make an issue of something that wasn't a problem beforehand (unless you're fond of affection in Hajinlian's building.)

As for that cellphone in the picture at the very beginning of this post (which interestingly, is the same death-dealing device that I use), it's also a piece of terrible...well...terror. Nevermind how parents used to feel that their kids never communicated with them, that there seemed to be an inconquerable monolith seperating the thought processes of progenitor and progeney. Now, they're yaking too much, all thanks to text messages. Kids texting their parents is apparently going to stunt their social growth, leaving them to be a bunch of basement-dwelling, neck-bearded mouthbreathers. Well, the article doesn't go into the basement-dwelling, but the insinuation is there.

Our children are talking to each other too much! They're communicating! They're interested in the lives of their friends! How dare they, I say. How dare they indeed. While there are extreme cases of kids doing nothing but texting (one 13-year-old cited in the article got up to 20,000 texts a month, leaving me to wonder how she had time to bathe and eat) there are always going to be extremes.

But to suggest that texting is terrible for kids because it lets them talk to their parents and friends more frequently, and that fostering positive relationships with your parents is a bad thing, as being a complete teenage years is something to be encouraged, is simply dumb. How about the dumbing down of the English language as a result of texting and its incessant use of abbreviations that someone become words of their own? Nah, there's little indignation in that. That's a matter of intellectualism, and who cares about that? Certainly not in such troubling times as these, when just the other day, I saw two children hugging with one arm outstretched, its fingers furiously thumbing the number pad.