By Jonathan Jones
Earlier this year, Tiffany Field, head of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine, traveled to different airports in Florida to watch people interacting.
A researcher who has studied touch for more than four decades, Field made a shocking discovery: Nobody was touching each other. Everyone was on their phone.
“I think social media has been really detrimental to touch,” Field told me. “Being on your phone is distancing people physically from each other. It used to be in airports, you’d see people hugging and napping on each other. Now they’re just not touching.”
The science of touch came of age in the mid-1990s, when two scientists traveled to Romania to examine the sensory deprivation of children in understaffed orphanages. The touch-deprived children, they found, had strikingly lower cortisol and growth development levels for their…