Gone are the days when people believed in physically touching one another to establish a strong connection; the days when hugging was a free gift that was always returned; the days when no one was being instructed to avoid physical contact with another person; the days when a person wouldn’t get sued for sexual harassment because they attempted to hug another. The good old days.

Today, everyone believes they are connecting through some immaterial medium, therefore, there’s no need to touch one another. People who are grieving and in pain are not hugged endlessly anymore.  Everyone merely sits around and talk to them as though words can satisfy the obligation of a warm bear hug. Everyone wants to stay on their own lane and do their thing. People feel they are ‘overstepping boundaries’ by hugging others. We are in a time when physical and personal touch holds no importance in human relationships anymore.

Social media has forced everyone to learn to connect from a distance

Let’s face it. Social media has caused humanity a great deal of strain in the past few decades. People don’t believe in physical connection anymore. They can connect over a million miles from each other on Instagram DMs and ‘talk’ for hours with their partners or Friends on Messenger apps. You could easily ‘discuss’ issues with a group of friends on a Twitter thread.

No one cares about turning up physically anymore. Old friends don’t care about planning get-togethers these days because everyone could connect remotely over the internet. Social media is probably the greatest influencer in devaluing physical contact.

It’s a good thing that technology has made it easy for people to connect with their loved ones who are far away. Unfortunately, this makes people get accustomed to distance and avoid physical contact with one another, no matter what the occasion may be.

People are terrified of hugging others

Everyone is being careful of harassment suits nowadays. All the talk about consent and respect of boundaries before touching another person is slowly hardwiring everyone to avoid touching one another [2]. Doctors are terrified of comforting their patients with touches – they may be sued for misconduct. Foster parents are scared of hugging their kids – they may be reported for inappropriate behavior. People don’t want their arms to mistakenly brush up against any part of another person’s body. It may lead to a court case they know nothing about.

A white woman recently threatened to call the cops on a 9-year-old African-American child whom she accused of groping her backside in Brooklyn [3]. She flew at the boy and shook him up, threatening to have him arrested, and as frightened as he was, he called 911. A review of the video surveillance at the store showed that the boy’s backpack had merely grazed her backside. At a community meeting, the boy cried painfully, clearly broken by the shameful wrong accusation.

He said: “I don’t forgive this woman, and she needs help.”

This is one of the reasons why people are utterly terrified of touching one another nowadays. You might get arrested for being friendly, or perhaps your pencil grazed another person’s finger.

Physical touching is beneficial to our health

Over the years, there have been many studies and reviews to prove that there are actually health benefits of hugging and physical touch. The stress hormone cortisol may be greatly reduced by close physical contact with another person. One study states that people who frequently hug others and have a great support system are less likely to fall ill. Physical touch has the ability to reduce stress and increase happiness (by increasing the levels of oxytocin, ‘the love hormone’ and serotonin, ‘the happy hormone’). Hugging may also reduce fear and anxiety by regulating the release of adrenaline into the body and lowering the heart rate back to normal.

We’d be robbing ourselves of these health benefits when we refrain from physical contact with other people.

We actually crave physical contact

A lot of people are in relationships where they don’t even get to cuddle with their partners or find the time to share their souls and build a deep connection. Everything is fast-paced and hurried along. Some people end up finding solace in the arms of teddy bears and stuffed animals. There are now professional cuddlers and huggers people can hire to cuddle them [3]. The need for physical contact can be overwhelming.

Many people are lonely, depressed, anxious, tense, unhappy, terrified from a terminal sickness and, vulnerable. Having no one to hold onto to draw strength and courage from their warmth is difficult. They’ll end up paying someone else to cuddle them and ease their pain.

Let’s go back to a time when we openly touched one another and communicated in a deep and beautiful way. A time when we wouldn’t get offended if another person pats our shoulder. A time when we’d plan weekly meetings with our friends just to catch up and bask in each other’s company. 

A time when we truly knew how to love.

References:

  1. Teach Consent Without Screwing Up Your Kids. Julie Fraga. Vice. January 12, 2017.
  2. This 34-year-old gets paid to cuddle people. Jane Wells. CNBC. April 2, 2018.
  3. 9-year-old boy’s message to #Cornerstone Caroline: ‘I don’t forgive you and you need help.’ Stephen A Crocket Jr. The Root. October 17, 2018.
  4. What Are the Benefits of Hugging? Erica Cirino. Health Line. April 10, 2018.
Related Articles: