The internet may be a poor substitute for friends in our immediate vicinity, but for some of us, sometimes it's all we've got. Sounds pathetic, I know, but that's how it is.
I'm one of the people who posted a thread asking for hugs. It happened during a time when I was experiencing extreme physical isolation, meaning I was having almost no access to other people (which is most of the time, actually, but I figure one hug thread is probably all I can get away with).
For some of us who experience physical isolation, it's not that we aren't making the effort, it's that we have physical limitations that make it difficult, and sometimes impossible to get out among other people, and some of us even live alone, and have no access to people there, either.
I'm not advocating either for or against prayer/healing request threads. I don't particularly want to get into that debate. But I thought it might be useful for you to know that not everyone is fortunate enough to have people they can get hugs from in the 3D world.
By the way... while my hugs thread may have caused you some embarassment, it helped me a lot. And I have made friends in the 3D world through the Mudcat.