Social Question

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

How important is touch?

Asked by Hawaii_Jake (30670points) September 29th, 2010

Most of us live our lives insulated and disconnected from each other. Large open offices now are divided into cubicles. Assembly lines have never been a place where communication and commarderie were acceptable to management. While schools have large classrooms, students are expected to concentrate on the teacher.

When we get to college at some of the larger schools, lectures halls hold hundreds of students who variously pay attention or sleep or do work for other classes. Our work lives are often spent in competition for what seems like ever dwindling resources.

When do we have time to get to know each other? How are we expected to build deep, meaningful relationships? Who has time to touch a flower petal, a feather found on the sidewalk, or the hand of another person?

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14 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I agree that people are disconnected from each other – just the other day I was on a fluther question trying to explain that we’ve cornered touch into either ‘sexual’ or ‘non-sexual’ and there are, I believe, quite a few other variations in between. I’m the kind of person that is very touchy and I always tell people ahead of time – I also live in the moment…if you and I are strangers but we’re having one of those evenings where we talk for hours and we want to hold hands, I will w/o wondering where ‘it might lead’.

tranquilsea's avatar

Touch is very important.

Society is too disconnected, although in a strange way the Internet has connected us in ways never seen before.

chyna's avatar

I am @Simone_De_Beauvoir‘s opposite. I am not touchy feely at all and in fact if someone touches me, I back off from them. My parents didn’t touch that I ever saw, so I guess it was passed on to me.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna My parents didn’t touch me or each other – I don’t know where I get it from…I guess I’m a lot more aware of my physicality than my parents were ever of theirs.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I think it’s vitally important. We are social creatures. And it’s been proven that babies who are not touched can get sick and die, or become subject to emotional disturbance and suffer attachment problems.

chyna's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I would prefer to be touchy feely and have tried to be, but I can’t force myself to be that way.

Jeruba's avatar

I think it must be the first thing that babies experience, before sight, sound, or anything else. That makes it seem like the most basic experience of all.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@chyna You surely don’t need to force yourself to be any one way.


I wished everyone hugged each other more. I grew up in a very non-tactile family, and as I grew older and associated with people outside my family who actually hugged me (for example, at work), it initially felt uncomfortable and awkward. However, I grew to like it, and I appreciate the warmth that comes from being touched and embraced. I think most people in North America are afraid of touch, because it’s basically a “me, me” isolated society, and that people here value “their privacy” over warmth and closeness. I have an Italian friend who told me she finds most people here in North America to be “cold”—- they like to keep to themselves. In Italy and some other places in the world people, even mere acquaintances, commonly hug each other on the street and even kiss each other. I think it’s how people are raised here that explains why a lot of us are “cold” here, and also because we don’t want to be accused of “improper behavior”, if you know what I mean. That is unfortunate.

muppetish's avatar

I was never a touchy person until I became friends with someone who also, quite fervently, did not want to be touched (I think it may have to do with her family life at home coupled with suppressing her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.) I felt the strongest urge to hug her every time I saw her, ask how her day was, ruffle her hair, lean on her shoulder. I feel as though we healed each other. Just a little.

I respect the physical boundaries of other people and am never upset if they warn me that they do not want to be touched. I know what that feels like. I’m glad that I have been able to find a new sense of embrace for others, though. It’s a fulfilling feeling.

Other than people, I quite enjoy touching all kinds of textures. I tap the poles I pass, wave my hand through leaves dangling off branches, dip my fingers into pools of water… I grew up with a lot of people who thought touching everything was gross and germy. Sure there are germs, but I want to feel everything. There’s a wonderful world at our fingertips and I want to hold it [/my being incredibly corny.]

faye's avatar

I’m touchy feely but I respect that some people aren’t. It was my good luck to be a cancer nurse- many hugs.

perspicacious's avatar

Americans have as much or more free time as they ever have. They just choose to sit in front of the TV or play video games rather than visit with neighbors on the porch after dinner. This is one of those losses to chalk up to technology—it started with air conditioning.

InkyAnn's avatar

i think touch is very important, not just to other humans but to everything around us, like picking up a fall leaf and feeling it crumble through your fingers, sticking your hand on to a dipping line of tree sap and feeling the stickiness of it, running your fingering on the inside of your “lovers” hand and noting the texture of their skin, giving butterfly kisses (blinking your eyelashes on someone elses skin). things like that keep us grounded and connected in more ways then one.

partyparty's avatar

I think touch is vital. It is a link to another person.
I am a very touchy feely person, but I do appreciate some people don’t like it.
I have a cousin who hates being hugged or kissed, so I respect her wishes (although I do find it odd).

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