Our fascination with touch and why it’s changing our world

Growing up one of my most enjoyable experiences when hanging out with my dad was going to the bank with him. I loved going because he would tell me what to press and I would touch the screen and make his selections. I felt powerful. Here I was, a something-year old kid, helping my dad, the man who made all the money, make decisions. I won’t lie – the touch factor of my dad’s bank gave me one of my first feelings of power, and it wasn’t until I started thinking about our fascination with touch that it hit me.

We live in a world where more of us are touchy-feely, than we’d like to admit. Even if it’s not touchy-feely in the sense where we go around hugging around, its definitely touchy-feely in the tech sense where we want to touch and feel our decisions being put into action.
I am one of the few that have not gone blackberry ball crazy – or one who has not morphed into an iPhone fanatic (yes – they are fanatics). My first smart phone was an HTC phone. I’m a Windows kinda gal, sorry. I love being able to navigate through my phone by the tap of one of my freshly manicured nails, or through the handling of my oh-so-easy-to-lose stylus.

Why is it that we almost NEED to touch everything?? Are we not receiving enough love and attention from our parents as children?

I was doomed from the moment I started playing with HP’s TouchSmart – doomed in the most positive way. I stated touching EVERYTHING – from my non-touch screen car radio, to my brothers non-touch screen BlackBerry (circa 2007 – duh!). Although I didn’t break any nails during my trial-&-test-everything-to-see-if-it-responds-to-my-touch era, I did manage to make some great friends (I kid, I kid)…

I asked one of my well esteemed childhood friends, who is also a psychotherapist (Emily Rentas), if there was any psychological explanation for our fascination with texting, and trying to obtain the latest gadgets with touch capability and she broke it down for me in more terms and ways than I imagined. I’ll try to summarize…bear with me…

First off, if you think about babies and young children, they oftentimes acquire some sort of object that secures them that provides them with that security they seek when they’re alone, away from their parents, etc…those things are called transitional objects. As adults, we’ve evolved from needing a physical ‘security’ blanket, to depending on this gadgets that provide just that – that security we seek, without really knowing we seek it.

Think about why some of us feel ‘naked’ when we leave home without our phones…really? Are we naked? Would we have felt naked 10+ years ago without our pagers? (Remember those?)

The need to have a transitional object usually occurs when we’re infants and the sad reality that we are not attached to our mothers, or whoever brings the world to us, is made real. When infants realize they are not dependent to their moms, and that they in fact will need to be independent, they seek comfort in these items. As adults I see the same thing occurring. I believe the desire to have power or comfort at times of distress, even if only through a blanket – the one blanket that never leaves your side, has perfectly translated into our obsession with gadgets. Touch-screen-‘anythings’ gives us that power and subtle power that we sometimes seek when the world does not know we’re under some sort of distress.

What situations drive you to pull out your cell phone (is it even called that anymore), start texting or even your iPod to shuffle through some songs??

Think about it…

...why do YOU touch?