Holding hands with strangers (video)

[Video Link] Andrew Hales of LAHWF ("Losing All Hope Was Freedom", a Fight Club reference) walks around in public trying to get strangers to hold his hand. Below, part two (via Joe Sabia).


  1. this only works because they’re super attractive…or maybe it would work better if they weren’t?

  2. Flirting is when the attractive person makes an advance.  Harrassment is when the unattractive person makes a pass.  Good thing these people were cute, if creepy.

    1. Garbage. Harassment is when attention is undesired. Flirting is when attention is desired.  People frequently welcome the attention of those they find attractive.  It’s not rocket science, and there’s nothing wrong with it.

      1. so basically what you are saying is the exact same thing as  @boingboing-ce21433ca7c640e8847df344c1d50ab2:disqus

        with good looking people attention is almost always desired (even if the other person is in a relationship and it isn’t going anywhere, they are typically flattered by the attention of a good lookign person).

        with unattractive people the attention is almost never desired.

        so yeah…not garbage, true.

        1. There’s a difference. Because, one, I didn’t say “almost always desired” I said “frequently” which means “there’s a better chance of it being desired” which has nothing to do with “being flattered”.

          The key is not the part about “good looking” but the part about “desired attention.” Which the original poster missed out on.

          I’ve been hit on by good looking guys whose attention I did not want. I’ve been hit on by not good looking guys whose attention I did not want. In both cases? It was creepy and uncomfortable.
          It’s important because there’s a really nasty double standard in our society, where men getting unwanted attention- from ‘ugly chicks’ or older women or gay dudes- is like HORRORS! and women getting unwanted attention is like, “suck it up, you shallow hussy, how dare you not be flattered.”

          1. I don’t think @boingboing-ce21433ca7c640e8847df344c1d50ab2:disqus is unaware of obvious, i think his point highlights a deeper social commentary beyond the obvious.

            I’ll agree there is a 0.01% deviation between what you both said…hardly warrents calling what they said “garbage”.

            don’t forget the equally obvious fact that unwanted attention is not harassment unless in continues after the fact that it is unwanted is made known or is in some way inappropiate.  attention itself is not harassment inless it crosses one of those two lines.

            and there seems to be some confusion about how the comment system here works…I said “almost always”, not you, I also added the part about being flattered.  My name by the comment means I was the person who made it, not you.

          2. @redesigned:disqus 

            don’t forget the equally obvious fact that unwanted attention is not harassment unless in continues after the fact that it is unwanted is made known or is in some way inappropiate.

            That would depend on the attention, wouldn’t it?  It would always be unwanted for a man to run around and randomly grab women’s breasts, even if he is attractive, for example.  Or to just whip out his penis in front of everyone, even if he is attractive.

            Sometimes harassment is just clearly harassment.

        2. I don’t want attention from good looking people.  I want attention from people I find interesting when I’m feeling receptive.

          We’re not all as shallow as all that.  Are you?

          1. I don’t think that not finding good looking people interesting is necessarily shallow, as long as you are being true to yourself then I won’t judge you for it.

            Nor does it lessen the initial generalized statement about societal acceptance of certain behaviors more from people with certain looks that I initially replied to, and which is the main point of this sub thread.

    2. Flirting is when the person has money.  Harrassment is when the person is out of money. 

  3. We need a video of me trying this. SWAT would probably be called. I am 6’1 heavy set, bearded black man :) I am cute however, according to multiple sources.

    1. Dude – I’m a 6’2″ heavy set bearded white guy with a shaved head.  I’ll hold your hand.  That might be a fun video too.  How many homophobes are going to say anything about it if we do it in public?  It’d be _really_ embarrassing to get the crap beat out of you by a couple of nancy-boys… XD

      1. i’d very likely pay to watch that, especially here in the south.  you’d get both the homophobes and the racists twitching like principal mcvicker from the butthurt of it all.

    1. Just what I was coming here to say. WTF? Who thinks this is appropriate? Look at some of the women just recoil and tell me this is okay to do. This is borderline frotteurism.

    1. My GF turns up her nose at most Adult Swim stuff but she watched Eric Andre and thought it was great. 

  4. The human animal is interesting isn’t it?  Reactions anywhere from the really cool young guy who takes his hand and walks with him at the beginning, to the insecure macho guy at the end who feels so threatened by it he almost gets violent.  I spent most of the videos cringing at the expected reactions.  

  5. A complete stranger touching me, even if it’s just my hand and not my genitals? Nope.
    I am curious if this is what prompted that Tosh guy to start a fan series of them touching random women’s stomachs and film it for laughs…

  6. Ugh. Sorry, this is a trigger for me. THINKING about it is a trigger for me. It’s not cute, and not funny, just creepy.

    1. I don’t recommend travel to the Third World. There are many places where strangers will take your hand.

        1. No, I’m serious. Outside the US, personal space is sometimes about a quarter inch, and people touch you.

          1. oh, sorry – you’re condescending
            edit: it’s condescending because our moderator assumes I am not familiar with customs outside of the geographic borders that she assumes I am contained within, and that I need her advice to readjust my worldview so that I can appreciate how funny it is for some dude to help himself to my personal space, and that either she is a: so tone deaf that she doesn’t understand the nature of my objection or b: just trolling. Sorry for the long edit, comment are closed and I wasn’t too pumped to return for the last few days.

          2. @google-6946596406d05481dcce6c64bddab7b3:disqus – i didn’t read @Antinous_Moderator:disqus ‘s comment as either hilarious or condescending…why the hostility?

            it is actually pretty good advice to someone who even watching this video puts them out of their comfort zone.

            as someone who has done lots of traveling, I can attest to to this fact first hand.

          3. As a Brit/misanthrope, personal space in the US is too damn small for me. What you’re describing sounds horrific. I’d definitely get punchy in that scenario.

          4. Well, the general kerfuffulance that ensued just now makes it all unintentionally hilarious. 

          5. It’s interesting how people from around the globe feel about personal contact. I’ve seen people from Finland running and swimming naked in public, but they freak out with a little touch of hands. Or people from India don’t mind at all being so close to you that they stand over your toes.

            As a Latinamerican I don’t care too much with having a little contact with strangers.

          6. When I was in India, traveling with two other tall blondes, we were very noticeable when we were out on the street. People would walk up toe-to-toe and stare right into our faces. It was a little weird.

            In Nepal, at least in the Sherpa areas, I’d be sitting on the ground and somebody would sit down knee-to-knee and drop their hands onto my thighs while we were talking. That actually didn’t seem weird, probably because it was obviously friendly and because it’s a bit more relaxing in the mountains than on an Indian street with a million people jostling together.

      1. The video was not filmed in the third world. That the third world may have different standards of personal space than where this video was filmed, or where the lynol collins may live (which, FWIW, may be the third world, for all we know) is not relevant to whether this video is creepy.

        1. only realvant to put things into perspective globally.  any subsegment might have a specific reaction, but the broader perspective is still valuable to have.  i think that is the intention of this line of discussion.

    2. Same here. I couldn’t make it through watching all of that. My body is not an invitation, and that means if someone snuck up on me and grabbed my hand, they’d leave with either me screaming in their face, or a broken nose. Uninvited touch is called assault. If strangers touch me without my permission, I will feel threatened and scared, and I will react accordingly.
      In the US (at the very least), one could barely find a handful of women without at least one rape and/or assault survivor among them.

      1.  @boingboing-f70f244a96906ab12737549e855190ca:disqus Not being in your position or having your type of reaction I am genuinely curious how your reaction would differ if it was the girl in the second video as opposed to the guy?  Would that matter to you or not really?

        What about race, weight, body markings/tattoos, general appearance, age, etc?  Would a child or elderly person elicit a different reaction?

        What about a person in a suit verses a homeless looking person?

        Both the brother and sister from those videos looked very harmless and disarming, but that might not matter to some folks, thoughts?

        Personally I think calling touching someone’s hand assault is a little over the top and a very first world personal space perspective, but i do empathize with people who would experience genuine fear due to past assaults.  It certainly doesn’t qualify as assault by either the linguistic or legal definitions of the word, and I don’t think there was any intention to cause fear in anyone, but I can see the validity and empathize with your point.

        It is pushing the social acceptance boundries in north america or england or parts of europe, which is why people are enthralled with watching it and have reactions to it.  That is the very thing that makes it an interesting video, a non-threatening, non-sexual, non-aggressive form of human contact, in a society where we are used to having no bodily human contact with strangers, which is in and of itself a very rare thing in the world as a whole.  It would be interesting to see this same social experiment repeated in various cultures to see how the reactions differ.

        1. Would a child or elderly person elicit a different reaction?

          Are we talking Betty White or Bukowski? 

          1. Having been forcibly grabbed by someone with dementia, and having had to peel her fingers off my arm while someone else restrained her, I personally wouldn’t find seniority to be a mitigating factor.

        2. first world personal space perspective

          What the fuck? The video was filmed in the first world. First world standards are appropriate to apply. Since when did “first world” become a generic slur?

          1.  I’m sorry, I didn’t know i that become a slur or intend it that way, my apologies.  I was simply pointing out that it is only a small handful of first world counties where we have become so insular and isolated from human contact where we have had the opportunity to develop personal spaces issues.  I truly had no other intention and meant no slur.

    3. Antinous’ comment wasn’t condescending in any way, you just seem to have a severe persecution complex is all.

  7. I wasn’t sure during the first video, but the second confirmed it – hipsters. The Bambi sweater is a dead giveaway. DON’T LET THEM TOUCH YOU! THAT’S HOW THEY TRANSFER THEIR IRONIC DISEASE!!!

  8. i’ve got to admit that my reaction would be gender-based.  i really REALLY dislike being touched by people i do not know.  that being said:

    any strange guy touching me for any reason at any time is at least grounds for a very loud “WHAT THE @#$% ARE YOU DOING?” or perhaps a “DO NOT TOUCH ME!”  i work in a library and have had to use the second a couple of times with sleazy patrons, and it lets them know really quick that you don’t appreciate it and will not put up with it and are more than delighted to raise hell about it.  if that makes them decide i’m a bitch or complain — i should care about that why, exactly?  yeah.

    females, it would depend.  this is of course because as a female i feel unthreatened by females.  in the second video’s setting, on the street, in public, at night, i’d just assume the gal was drunk or something and laugh it off.  but in the first setting, where i’d assume everyone was sober, that would be an “EXCUSE ME?” moment.

  9. This really creeped me out, especially after reading the Reddit thread http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/x6yef/reddits_had_a_few_threads_about_sexual_assault/c5jtt3p about how rapists feel. This guy isn’t holding peoples hands to be cute or brighten someone’s day, it’s just some weird exhibitionist thing so he can get more views on Youtube or something.

    People acting weirded out by him isn’t funny, it’s normal. Because he’s a creepy dude.

    1.  I think this was started in university as a social experiment, most likely for a class.

      In the second video his sister does the same thing.

      I think you are jumping to a pretty intense and incorrect conclusion, yikes. :-(

  10. This very interesting social experiment has certainly gotten me thinking about first world personal space issues/boundries and the wide variation of reactions to this sort of thing.

    We already saw that the girl had less reaction then the guy, so we know gender plays a role in how this is perceived.

    I’m thinking if they had used children or elderly people would have and a much lessened reaction, if any at all.

    I’m also thinking class/social status perception would play a large role in perception, a guy in a suit versus a homeless looking guy.

    I’m sure the ethnicity would play a factor in people’s reactions.

    Weight/size would also most likely play a factor as would body markings, piercings, etc.

    I’d love to see this experiment repeated in various cultures throughout the world to see the varying reactions.

    This sort of thing always fascinates me, we play and act by a pretty huge set of unwritten, unspoken, societal rules and it is interesting to see reactions when those rules are challenged.

    Anyone have any further thoughts on any of this?

  11. I assume that people who intentionally touch me in public, without warning, and without my consent, are threatening me. This isn’t a conscious decision. I’m just twitchy that way. This would make me extremely uncomfortable. And it makes me extremely uncomfortable to watch.

    1. As someone who doesn’t have that reaction, for some reason I find that reaction facinating and have been trying to make meaning of why people have such a wide array of reactions.  You are not alone in feeling the way you do based on many of the other comments here.

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