Vail Daily column: Reach out and touch someone
January 8, 2014
From the site http://www.livestrong.com comes this opening statement of their article titled "Importance of Human Touch":
Extensive research by the University of Miami's Touch Research Institute has revealed that human touch has wide-ranging physical and emotional benefits for people of all age groups. In the Institute's experiments, touch lessened pain, improved pulmonary function, increased growth in infants, lowered blood glucose, and improved immune function. Human touch is important for all ages, but by the time children reach their teen years, they receive only half as much touching as they did in the early part of their lives. Adults touch even less.
We now live in a world of high-tech innovations, where improved communication has been the goal with the personalized aspect of such communication being lost to speed, efficiency, etc., of iPhones, iPads, iPods, etc. Given that communications is formed to not only improve the flow of information, but to enhance the building of relationships, one would consider our high-tech world to have a leg up on the generations that preceded that of the iPhone.
Consider the invention of Skype — a means to communicate with the real-time visuals of the communicators. This sounds great, until we consider that this innovation allows people to live/work even further and further away from each other with the semblance of being "in touch." While in reality, what we have done is proposed a means to further remove the need for personal touch in our lives.
There really is no way to halt our progress in communication development, nor should we consider such a protest to high-tech innovation. However, if we consider the true physical and emotional needs for personal touch, it may be worth a serious look at altering our societal and cultural inhibitions to touching. For example, instead of the traditional "handshake" when greeting someone, maybe we should consider using both our hands — one to shake the other's hand, and one to gently grasp their lower arm … or, get truly radical and give that person a hug!
For those of us that may remember family road trips before portable DVD players and handheld electronics, it is a wonder how we survived the boredom. Playing games with sibling and parents such as Slug Bug, license plate Bingo, I Spy With My Little Eye, or listening to eight-track and cassette tapes that often were eaten by the tape player, have given way to activities that are now very independent. There's little if any communication when our children play electronic game and watch movies. While there are probably fewer times that our kids hear the shameful, "If I have to pull over the car … " threat, the loss of the family games and communication may have become nostalgia.
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Having lived in a world with virtually no high-tech equipment and now living in today's world with the many incredible innovative tools at our disposal, I would choose this world over and over again. Yet, I do believe the future of the human condition is dependent upon our ability to maintain what makes us human . To that end, it is imperative that we strive to enhance our personal modes of communicating: Hugging, warm handshakes, letter writing, eye-to-eye contact, phone calls, and listening when someone speaks.
Texts, tweets, emails, etc. have their place and have significantly improved much of our information flow. However, we as humans need so much more to be happy and healthy — we need the touch of another human. We start this touching process from the time we are babies, and it is clear to me that we should be continuing this natural process until the day we leave our bodies.
Go give someone a hug!
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels in Eagle County. He may be reached at http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or at 970-328-5526