Some of you may remember this infamous slogan that came out in the 70s. AT&T really had their finger on the pulse of what keeps humans ticking…human connection. It’s been important since the beginning of time, back in the 70s and still is today. However, no one could predict just how important this sentiment would become in 2020. How do we, in this “new normal”, find ways to keep this up, in a world where there is already a “pandemic” of loneliness and disconnection. One need only look at the number of people on “quick fix” social media platforms looking for connection.
Humans are born with an innate need for connection, and human touch is part of that, a significant part. In fact, without regular human touch, a baby can fail to thrive, grow, develop normally and in some cases, can die. Seniors, especially those with no family, people who are differently abled, those who are most marginalized, the homeless, those with mental health issues all are especially vulnerable. Lack of meaningful human connection, including healthy human touch, can even shorten one’s life expectancy.
So, what can we do about this? Why would we want to do anything?
I remember a few years ago, getting together with a few friends and standing on the street corners, holding up a sign, saying “free hugs.” We did this over a few hours. There was no shortage of people requesting hugs. Although we can send hugs over social media, it is not quite the same. If we are lucky, we can receive hugs from members of our own household, where it is deemed safe by public health officials. But what if we live alone? What if we are living on the fringes of society? Sadly, lack of human connection and human touch has been a reality for many even before the pandemic. So, what can we do?
Healthy human touch is healing. To the body, mind and soul. Within our own small groups of friends or family, we can offer to a massage to loved one’s feet, or put some hand cream on their dry hands, or give them a short 5 minute shoulder or back rub. You need not be an expert, just consent is needed and a gentle touch. Just ask what they would like. Hugs or even a caring touch on the hand can say say so much when words just won’t come.
What about those who have no small group of family or friends? I remember something my daughter and her friends did through her class at college. They made up an inspirational quote and put it on a small piece of paper and wrote on it… “random act of kindness” and laminated it and gave it out to people. Of course, in this day and age, we would have to wash our hands and wear a mask while giving out these cards. We could give them out to random people, people in our tribe or drop them off at a homeless shelter, or a women’s shelter, or a senior’s home, anywhere really.
Hopefully, in the near future, our world will go back to handshakes and hugs for all, but if this Covid-19 pandemic teaches us anything, it is that we need each other. When seniors are saying they don’t care about Covid, they just don’t want to die of loneliness, mabe we as a society need to do more. Mabe we can’t leave it up to the government or the institutions that serve those most marginalized to “reach out and touch someone”.
Yes…we are all in this together.
Save the date December 1, 2020 – Giving Tuesday!