2419: Hug Count
Title text: I've never been that big of a hug person, but it turns out I'm not quite this small of a hug person either.
The comic displays a bar chart showing the number of Individuals Randall has hugged vs the year, spanning from 1996 to 2021, and goes up to 35 individuals hugged in 2007. The apparent spike in the estimate for 2007 may have been chance or may have been a known social event that Randall remembers, such as a family reunion or anticipated parting from a social group (such as a school or job from which he left), where he hugged many people he otherwise would not have hugged. While it varies a decent amount for the first 24 years, it drops sharply in 2020 and goes even lower in 2021. However, it should be noted that 2021 (at the time of the comic) had just begun, which is why the final bar is grey. It seems he is down to only two people hugged in 2021, one of which is most likely his wife. In 2020 he managed 5 different hugs, but the extra three may have been before the onset of COVID-19 precautions in the US.
This is because in 2020 when the pandemic happened, everyone had to social distance and avoid contact with strangers. This was a widely used method of slowing the spread of COVID-19. People are asked to not closely associate with those outside a very limited 'bubble' or even isolating individuals in their own household. As such, people have had less physical contact with each other since the beginning of this pandemic, including hugs.
No explanation is given for the variations year-to-year preceding 2020, and much of it may be random walks. However, one can see a major spike in hug levels in 2010 and 2011; Randall's wife was diagnosed with cancer in late 2010 (see Category:Cancer). Loved ones of those with cancer tend to receive much compassion from others, and compassion tends to beget hugs.
The title text states that, while Randall isn't very big on hugs, he too desires hugs. It plays on the common phrase "I'm not too big of an (x) person", which is used to indicate that someone isn't extremely fond of said activity. One could then infer the person is not fond of the activity at all, though in this case, he indicates his desire for hugs is non-zero, as presumably demonstrated by the frequency being now less than even he would prefer.
- [A bar graph is shown with 25 black bars and one gray at the far right. Most of the bars have a height around the center of the graph, but the one in the middle is clearly higher than all others and also the two before and after are lower than average. There are also a couple of high bars in pairs on either side of the central spike. The far-right, however, are two very low bars, with the last in gray less than half the height of the previous, which was already only a third of the next lowest bar. There are numbers on both axes. The X-axis has the year for every fifth year below the relevant bar, and the number of hugs is given in intervals of 10 on the Y-axis. The Y-axis has ticks for every number, but those with labels are longer. The chart has a title written above:]
- Estimated Number of Distinct People Hugged per Year
- 2000 2005 2010 2015 2020
Table of number of people hugged
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