As of yesterday, 92M Americans had been vaccinated. The new President has stated that there will be enough vaccinations for every American by the end of May. Cubs and Sox will let fans in the parks. I am getting a “turning the corner” kinda feeling. People are reaching out to me looking to schedule in person meetings. MenLiving will, in fact, be hosting an in person meeting in Elmhurst on March 24th. For the big world, I am hopeful of these developments. For my little world, I am a bit torn. I love Zooming. Even as everything opens up, I might just stay at home with Zoom and a ‘Hug Shirt!’
In a recent article in Psyche entitled, “Technology promises hugs at a distance. Beware what you wish for” Andrew Wold and Rebecca Bohme write about the developing world of haptics, the use of technology to stimulate the senses of touch and motion, especially to reproduce in remote operation or computer simulation the sensations that would be felt by a user if they were interacting directly with the physical object. Thus, the ‘Hug Shirt.’ A ‘Hug Shirt’ will vibrate in the areas where someone has ‘saved’ a hug: just ‘record’ a hug in your shirt and send it to your loved one’s receiving shirt. Sweet! This haptic stuff is playing right into my plans. I can see you. I can feel you. And I never have to leave my house!
You might think I have some issues (no doubt I do!). Let me explain. First, I do love people. I am not looking to hide out. I do like my alone time, but I do want to be with people. In fact, in my calculation, over the last year, I have engaged with many more people via technology than I would have in person. Through MenLiving’s virtual platform in particular, I have made some dear friends that I never would have even met without sitting in my house connected to the Internet. Second (do I even really need a second?), I am not a car guy and prefer not having to drive places. Third (maybe second b), traffic and long travel times bum me out. So, “being” with lots of cool people, no crazy Chicago traffic and piece of mind? Sounds like a winning formula to me.
Once the pandemic is over, it might unfortunately be hard to get back to our old ways of being in person, shaking hands, hugging, and simply being OK with crowded places. For 12 months, touch and closeness can be dangerous. Despite everything I have written, I am not there. I want normalcy. I will shake hands. I will hug. I will mosh pit! I just want “normal” to include Zoom (or you platform of choice) and maybe ‘Hug Shirts.’
How have you adapted to the technology? Will you use it when “all is clear?” Or do you never want to be on a Zoom call again? Do you have a position on Hug Shirts :)?