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Monday, April 27, 2020

This morning we had too many bananas, so I took a few over to my neighbor and in return she gave me a tip for this column. When you put a headline in the Notable Headlines section, she said, please put a link. In case I want to read it.

The headline that caught her eye was this: “Why going without physical touch is so hard,” BBC News. Here’s the link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-52279411 . Not touching is not only hard, it’s unnatural. I’ve written about it before, in an article called: “Thoughts on Thigmotaxis,” at https://historysedge.wordpress.com/2018/01/24/thoughts-on-thigmotaxis/

The BBC article, quotes evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar: “But touch is ‘really fundamental’ for humans, and going without it weakens our close relationships.” Dunbar, author of Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language, is also frequently referenced in my most recent favorite book, Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life’s Fundamental Bond, by Lydia Denworth.

Starting in infancy, Denworth explains, touch reinforces us as social human beings and even strengthens our immune system. We feel insecure without it. “People with an acute sense of social isolation appear to have a reduced response to things that make most people happy, and a heightened response to human conflict.”

Did you ever see the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956, remake 1978)? Aliens from outer space replace humans one by one, replicating their bodies while they sleep. A wife says her husband is not her husband, a little boy says his mother is not his mother. Everyone thinks they’re crazy. The replaced person looks the same, but they are automatons, lacking feelings and emotions. I had nightmares for weeks.

When social distancing precludes touch, it is more important than ever to find safe ways to strengthen social ties and express feelings. Take masks. Most guidelines I’ve read say to wear them in places where social distancing is difficult, such as grocery stores and hospitals. But most places do not require them outdoors. You might think wearing one doesn’t do any harm, but I disagree. I think a world where you never see a smile is a scary place indeed.

After walking our dogs, my neighbor and I say good-by with a virtual hug. And a smile.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“States Move Forward With Plans to Reopen as Coronavirus Case Count Passes 930,000,” US News and World Report. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-04-26/states-move-forward-with-plans-to-reopen-as-coronavirus-case-count-passes-930-000

“Over-70s should not be forced to stay in isolation when coronavirus lockdown eased, Sage Adviser says,” https://news.yahoo.com/sage-adviser-says-over-70s-123419025.html

“How Do I Explain Social Distancing to My Puppy?” Jezebel https://jezebel.com/how-do-i-explain-social-distancing-to-my-puppy-1843109450

NOTE: If I give headlines that you can click on, I have to omit the papers I subscribe to. Is that a good trade-off? Let me know.

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

2 thoughts on “Pandemic Day 48: No Smiles, No Touch

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