Recently a professorial friend said she was so starved for human touch, hugs and embraces that she invented a hug-o-matic. She is looking for a product developer to put the life-saving medical device out there for everyone.
The hug-o-matic has tall to short stature models in the device as big as a refrigerator. Slipped out from the confines of the hug-o-matic, the chosen model wraps its arms around you when you insert your coins and select a particular hug option. Your vending choice can be male or female hugs, long or short, and can come with faux fur like someone in a winter coat. The machine is not sexual, though you can choose either a male or female gender squeeze. More than that, the model has human-like skin so choosing short-sleeve arms for the hug, the customer can get the summer sensation as opposed to the winter sensation of covered arms with long sleeve woolen jackets or faux fur coats. If you listen carefully a faint heartbeat adds to the hug-o-matic embrace. Six scents like spring flowers, sage, cedar, and unique perfume/cologne choices can also be selected.
Human touch is necessary to thrive. In an article on Touch Starvation found on The Texas Medical Center web site, Asim Shah, M.D., professor and executive vice chair of the Menninger Department of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine reports, “If a baby is born prematurely, the baby may be in the NICU [neonatal intensive care unit], but the mother is still asked to go to the NICU a few times a day to hold the baby and put the baby on her chest, even if they’re not breastfeeding,” Shah explained. “We know that this bonding, this human-to-human touch, is important for the growth of that child.”
Shah also reveals that lack of human touch can lead to lack of sleep and depression. The article addresses the consequences of social distancing on people, too.
In an April 2020 Time article entitled “The Coronavirus Outbreak Keeps Humans from Touching. Here’s Why That’s So Stressful,” Professor from UC Berkley Dacher Keltner says “Touch is the fundamental language of connection.” The research cited shows that human touch brings about happy feelings by releasing endorphins, oxytocin, and that having a happier mood can boost the immune system.
Keltner writes in the same article that having zoom meetings might help produce a resemblance of human interaction, and in fact can generate responses similar to actual human touch. He recommended exercise and dance in a virtual meet up. Having conversation getting to know co-workers on a telecommute conference can also imitate the surge of dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, oxytocin and other good feelings found when we have human touch.
This hug-o-matic makes sense more now than ever. We need one in every house, every workplace, every airport, every train or bus station. Have you hugged today?