Touch vs. Touch Screen {A Less Digital Life…Day 19}

sisterlylove

The little thing stands at the garage door and there’s nothing she can do to stop this. I’m heading out to pick up dinner and she’s throwing out every parting word she has in her small vocabulary like a lasso to get me back.

I’ve already hugged her twice and I’m ducking into the car to the sound of “I love you so much, Bye, I’ll miss you, Mwwwa, See you soon, I love you so much, Thumbs up, Bye Mommy, I love you so so so so much. I want to hug you.” She says it manic.

“Remember we hugged just now, honey? How about a long-distance hug?” I reach my arms out the window and do a pretend squeeze. She’s not buying it.

“No–I want to TOUCH you and hug you.”

“A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol” says the NY Times discussing recent research exploring the impact of touch in team building. In a moment of stress and uncertainty, when our own team was scattering for the moment, my little girl asked for just what she needed.

As connecting as social media posts, video chats, texts and phone calls may be, they don’t get close to providing the calming, comforting, confidence-building benefits that physical touch offers.

On our tenth anniversary road trip when the baby screamed and hyperventilated in her car seat, I climbed to the back, buckled myself in, laid my head next to her and rubbed the soles of her feet. I tried some other infant massage techniques that would work while she was strapped in. My voice hadn’t done the trick as I called to her and sang lullabies from the front, but with closeness and physical touch she began to slow her breathing and coo again. Soon, she turned her head to the side and fell asleep.

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When a basketball injury from last winter brought my husband to a crisis point early this September, I convinced him, a self-sufficient, grin-and-bear-it kind of guy, to let me do what the sports medicine therapist had recommended for the injury. The consistent massage therapy is helping him to feel better, but the benefit of physical touch goes both ways. I’ve heard it said that we grow in love toward those we help. His need is a door open for more talk, touch and bonding between us. While I’d rather him be feeling at his best, a plus side to his injury is that I have another excuse to be near and serve, to feel like a cheerful giver. I find myself wondering why it takes an injury for me to be this attentive.

No doubt, the time we spend on our touch screens affects the amount of time we have for the tenderness of in-person touch. The Huffington post reports that “the average mobile user checks his or her phone 150 times a day (that’s every six and a half minutes), and one recent survey found that young people in Britain spend more time each day on average on their phones than with their partners (119 vs. 97 minutes).” And from the looks of it, that’s not even counting other electronic devices.

Even the song on the new iPhone commercial shows how our devices vie for the attention that belongs to our true loves: “Switch me on, turn me up. I want to touch you. You’re just made for love.”

Here’s a little Internet break for you. Right now, before you do anything else online….
Trade shoulder massages with a family member.

 

 

{I’m linking up with Nester for her annual 31 Days blog get together. Don’t want to miss this series? Be sure to subscribe by entering your email in the box on the homepage sidebar. Find all posts in the series here.}

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