Step 4: Touch is Awesome and Shoulder Taps can be the First Steps to Closeness
Touch is the first sense developed in the womb and also is considered the last to leave when you die, although I can not confirm this with any of the dead people I know. Touch is the only sense we share with almost all living creatures, touch a worm and it will writhe with pleasure or pain, depending on the toucher's technique. The fact that naked mole rats and I experience a similar sensation really grounds me and connects me all of life on earth.
We say that we really need to get in "touch" when we are feeling "disconnected". These are linguistic clues that are alluding to our deep relationships between touch and emotions. To sooth a child we carry them. Teams which touch more perform better. Even the word we have for our emotions is "feelings". Think about it, how do you feel right now?
Our own president has been referred to as the "Hugger in Chief" and earlier on as a more optimistic president he had during one meeting given out more than 9 hugs. What do you think he was saying with those brograbs? Amazing! It seems like more people are becoming more open to hugging and other forms of haptic communication.
"Studies have found that: "a sympathetic touch from a doctor leaves people with the impression that the visit lasted twice as long" is just one example of the impact of our first and universal language (touch) that can be found in this awesome New York Times article.
Paul Bach-Y-Rita is a pioneer of haptic and tactile digital communication. And each year we see more research focusing on touch as a communicative and emotional sense both between people and between people and machines. For instance Tangible Media at the Media Lab has developed a touchable digital surface called Relief. Another use of technology to bridge the distance between people that is found with normal telepresence technologies (like skype) can be found with this research paper: HugMe: An Interpersonal Haptic Communication System.
Have you thought about how important touch is to you in your every day life? It's a method of communication, emotional load sharing, inspiration and healing. I hope the Shoulder Tap I've shared with you helps you break the barriers between people, and affords you a moment to stop and think about how touch is a part of your life. Because I assure you it is.
Now onto the tap!