An anonymous correspondent writes:
I very nearly accepted this hug from a (presumably well-meaning) stranger on the internet, without even a second thought. How lucky I was that Cameron, a member of Room 208’s crack legal team, was there at that moment to set me straight. Without hesitation, Cameron pulled me aside and justly admonished me for deciding to take an internet hug without seeking counsel first. Also for deliberately spilling coffee on my office keyboard so I could get it replaced, but that’s not the important part.
“But why?” I asked Cameron in disbelief. “Surely there’s no way simply receiving something as harmless as an internet hug could open us up to any liability?”
Cameron sighed a knowing sigh. “That’s what countless others before you said, moments before they met ignominious legal ends.”
“Oh, like who?”
Satisfied by Cameron’s detailed answer, I then asked, “What should I do, then? Surely there must be a way to accept an internet hug without exposing my employer to the possibility of ruinous civil litigation!”
“Never fear.” Cameron, prepared as always, whipped out a form. “This will ensure that we are adequately covered against all of the potential adverse consequences of internet hug admission.”
Having learned the error of my ways, I must now ask you, anonymous correspondent, and all others who wish to give me internet hugs to first complete the document that Cameron so generously provided me, which I have reproduced below.
Application Form for IllFlower-Directed Internet Hug Dissemination
- Full name:
- Date of birth:
- Social security number:
- Last four digits of applicant’s primary bank account number:
Please attach the following additional documents:
- Proof of insurance.
- A signed letter of recommendation from a third party who has previously received an internet hug from the applicant, vouching for the desirable qualities of said hug; e.g., warmth, emotion, lack of additional malware payloads, etc.
Terms and Conditions
This Agreement governs the provision of one (1) Internet Hug by ________ (applicant name), hereafter referred to as “Hugger,” upon IllFlower, hereafter referred to as “Enhugged.” By providing an Internet Hug to Enhugged, Hugger agrees to be bound by all of the terms and conditions of this Agreement.
An Internet Hug is defined as the voluntary sending of a message from Hugger to Enhugged, indicating the conduct of a theoretical action in which Hugger embraces Enhugged, as negotiated over a computer network.
Hugger agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Enhugged from any liability arising from the consequences of Hugger’s provision of the Internet Hug, including, but not limited to, emotional distress, physical injuries such as carpal tunnel, or failure to understand that Enhugged is actually a hedgehog made out of lethal spikes.
Hugger acknowledges that Enhugged’s acceptance of the Internet Hug is not to be construed as an indication of romantic interest, friendly camaraderie, possession of the basic literacy required to comprehend the Internet Hug, or anything beyond acceptance of the Internet Hug itself.
Upon receipt of the Internet Hug from Hugger, Enhugged may choose to reciprocate with a Return Internet Hug of Enhugged’s own. Hugger acknowledges that many factors enter into the provision of any Return Internet Hug, and that the presence or absence of a Return Internet Hug should not be construed as evidence of a favorable or unfavorable view of the original Internet Hug on the part of Enhugged. In particular, Hugger acknowledges that events such as walking away from the keyboard to use the bathroom, computer crashes, and being devoured whole by an invisible Burmese python that has been lurking in Enhugged’s room for years may adversely affect Enhugged’s ability to deliver a Return Internet Hug, regardless of Enhugged’s desire to do so or lack thereof.
Should Hugger wish to provide Enhugged with further Internet Hugs, Hugger must submit a separate application for each one.
IN THE EVENT THAT HUGGER AND ENHUGGED REGULARLY MEET FACE-TO-FACE, HUGGER ACKNOWLEDGES THAT IT MIGHT BE A LITTLE WEIRD SHOULD HUGGER REGULARLY DELIVER INTERNET HUGS TO ENHUGGED, BUT NOT ACTUAL PHYSICAL HUGS WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF. DOESN’T HUGGER SEE HOW ENHUGGED MIGHT BE GETTING MIXED SIGNALS ABOUT THAT?
Hugger acknowledges that, should Hugger wish to change the terms of this agreement at any time, Enhugged might not be ready for that sort of thing, and is likely to use various stalling tactics in an attempt to avoid thinking too hard about it, including but not limited to asking Enhugged’s lawyers for legal advice.
- Applicant’s signature: