Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine

Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine

With all that’s happened over the last few years, many of us have felt more isolated and alone.

Which can be highly problematic given that connection and relationships are crucial for mental health and happiness.

But as with pretty much every problem in life, there are solutions. They’re not always easy but they are possible. And this Next Big Idea Club article by Michelle Drouin explains how you can make some positive changes …

Michelle Drouin is a behavioral scientist and expert on technology, relationships, couples, and sexuality. Her work has been featured or cited in the New York Times, CBS News, CNN, NPR, and other media outlets. She is Professor of Psychology at Purdue University-Fort Wayne and Senior Research Scientist at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation.

Below, Michelle shares 5 key insights from her new book, Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy FamineListen to the audio version—read by Michelle herself—in the Next Big Idea App.

1. You can’t survive on dopamine alone.

For most of us, our daily lives are filled with drips of dopamine from our quick and easy social communication, like text messages and social media comments. These little bits of social reinforcement feel good—like the short-term wins at a slot machine. At the same time, our engagement in deeply immersive, intimate moments is diminishing. Sexual activity is decreasing, people are having fewer face-to-face moments, and millions of people are lonely and socially isolated.

Every time we choose texting in the text-talk-touch dilemma, we might be saving time, but we are reinforcing the dopamine-driven feedback loop and sacrificing the floods of oxytocin we might get from more immersive face-to-face experiences, like hugs or sex. It’s a tradeoff that leaves many of us wanting. And though you could likely survive on these dopamine drips, oxytocin (aka the love hormone) is really what helps us bond with others. And that type of bonding helps us survive as humans.

So when faced with the quandary of text-talk-touch, strike a balance between the drips and the floods. You can’t always choose to be face-to-face, but use text or social media messaging for their best purposes, such as a quick check-in or a placeholder for the deeper, more immersive moments that make us really human.

2. Don’t buy into online hype.

The perfect symbol of our omnipresent internet lens is the panopticon. It’s an architectural structure proposed by philosopher Jeremy Bentham in the 18th century—a tower with a guard in the center of a rotunda, filled with rooms all facing the center. Although originally designed with prisoners in mind, it didn’t take long for theorists to liken the panopticon to the internet. Except with the internet, we are each the prisoner and the guard, the watcher and the watched. And that makes us do all kinds of unexpected things.

“With the internet, we are each the prisoner and the guard, the watcher and the watched.”

It might make some of us more paranoid, where we worry excessively that someone might steal from us, hurt us, or even just judge us. Although it’s normal to care about what other people think, the internet pushes us onto a stage where everything we do is on display. This leads some people to hustle to create stage-worthy moments that look pretty in pictures, and others to be inauthentic in what they post. Yet my own research has shown that only 2 percent of people expect that others are honest online. This creates the ultimate conflict between the ideal and the rational: we both want the impossible illusion—the vacations, pretty foods, and beautiful faces from the carefully curated and filtered posts—and at the same time, we don’t believe what we see.

The only way to win against the illusion is to accept the internet for what it is: a magical world of make-believe…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE