&Open Oct 07, 2020
From e-commerce to online dating, we believe we can obtain everything we want immediately and without physical restraint. Today we expect instant gratification in all forms.
Yet the digital realm we inhabit - the one that promised to make things quicker and easier - has also moved us into a place where our physical connections have become fewer and further between. This move was already underway pre-pandemic, with the last 6 months having accelerated that change. Authentic connections, IRL (In Real Life), have become proportionately more difficult.
In The Atlantic article “Can We Touch” journalist James Hamblin discusses the pioneering work of a developmental psychologist Tiffany Field. In her “touch deprivation” studies, she found that lack of touch can impact children throughout their lives, “resulting in permanent physical and cognitive impairment, smaller stature, and social withdrawal later in life - which often includes aversion to physical contact.” Additionally, it is found that as little as 15 minutes daily touch alone has a myriad of benefits for full-term infants, children and pregnant women, adults with chronic pain, and people in retirement homes. In the latter stages of life, when memories fade and sight and sound reduce, our haptic sense remains strong: touch, textures, physical contact become life-lines.
While business won’t experience such dire outcomes without a physical touchpoint or interaction, Field’s studies speak to something primal: our need to touch and interact in the physical realm, to respect haptic communication. This has become evermore prevalent throughout the course of the year as we’ve been told in no uncertain terms that haptic communication is to be avoided at all costs. Its absence is profound and sincere and is tangible in our new reality.
Touch, as basic as it is, is something that grounds us. As we’ve waded further into our digital reality, touch has become more of a bonus--an extra--as opposed to something inherent or expected.
Relationships, which are key for a growing business, are built on empathy and cannot be forged or maintained by algorithms. It’s for that reason that in recent months brands we’ve worked with have been consistently asking for gifts that have a strong sense of place in our current ‘verse, Textures, moulds, finishes matter. How the gift itself feels. It’s something we’ve always been conscious of but now seems more important than ever before - because touch matters more than ever before.
Relationships, which are key for a growing business, are built on empathy and cannot be forged or maintained by algorithms
We are every day realising the worth of the physical; of real life experiences that engage the senses and go beyond efficiencies. While technology is a helpful tool, it is no substitute for the physical and real world tangible experience.
Opening image: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, 1971