Screen Fatigue Leads to Human Touch

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

The need to communicate is a part of the human condition. The recent stay-at-home programs helped launch Zoom from a small business tool into a common household name. But today, Zoom is becoming less appealing due to screen fatigue.

Social distancing forced many companies to use video conferencing and webinars for multiple daily meetings. Add to this phenomenon the staggering growth of virtual social gatherings and you find most working adults in front of a screen well beyond what their bodies can handle.

Screen fatigue overcame the fresh, exciting moments that new media brought to social communication.

Our desire to communicate with others has increased during our seclusion. Our appetite for connection was never satisfied by meeting on screen. We as a people group needed to get outside and connect in person to feel any level of fulfillment. Long periods of isolation didn’t even feel good to many introverts. Cabin fever set in and screen fatigue made everyone more susceptible.

We as humans need physical touch for our sanity and to feel connected. This is due to what psychologists refer to as phycological hungers. One of the phycological hungers that Dr. Eric Berne noted in Transactional Analysis was Contact Hunger. His work states that physical touch develops comfort and identity. The moment of touch also causes a visceral sense of connectedness and a healthy separateness.

Physical touch develops comfort and identity.

In societies that have looked down on forms of interactive touch like hugs, handshakes, and kisses, the individuals are more susceptible to being emotionally unhealthy and filled with distress. Those societies move into a progression of dysfunction, more so than that of a society that accepts touch and has to deal with some issues of abuse.

The extended COVID-19 isolation has starved many people from human touch, which has driven a need for more personal interaction. Screen fatigue has added to this problem and has driven people to seek outdoor gatherings. Since most are spaced six feet apart, the growing hunger will not be satisfied.

Kory Floyd Ph.D., recently published an article on “Skin Hunger” in Psychology Today. He pointed out that the starvation of physical touch is no less detrimental than water or food starvation. In a recent study, he found that adults deprived of human touch showed a great increase in depression, stress and loneliness. He also noted that they were less happy and they saw a major drop-off of their immune system leading to significant health risks.

Both noted experts helped me understand that our skin hunger will drive us to any oasis of human touch that is available. And, just as our bodies can’t go without food for more than 40 days, our skin can’t go without human touch. The phycological factors of blocking physical touch lead to dysfunctional problems that our society is not prepared to handle. The isolation of the healthy will drive people to hunger for what their bodies need in order to survive.

The next time you find yourself feeling empty while on a social video conference call, remember that those virtual relationships will always lack the touch that your skin needs to survive. We are a physical people that must interact to feel fulfilled and to solidify our identity. The next chance you have to extend your human touch, remember that doing so will feed person’s skin and bring health to their soul.

Copyright © 2020 by CJ Powers

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