Out of Touch
How to Survive an Intimacy Famine
- A Next Big Idea Club nominee
A behavioral scientist explores love, belongingness, and fulfillment, focusing on how modern technology can both help and hinder our need to connect. A Next Big Idea Club nominee.
Millions of people around the world are not getting the physical, emotional, and intellectual intimacy they crave. Through the wonders of modern technology, we are connecting with more people more often than ever before, but are these connections what we long for? Pandemic isolation has made us even more alone. In Out of Touch, Professor of Psychology Michelle Drouin investigates what she calls our intimacy famine, exploring love, belongingness, and fulfillment and considering why relationships carried out on technological platforms may leave us starving for physical connection. Drouin puts it this way: when most of our interactions are through social media, we are taking tiny hits of dopamine rather than the huge shots of oxytocin that an intimate in-person relationship would provide.
Drouin explains that intimacy is not just sex—although of course sex is an important part of intimacy. But how important? Drouin reports on surveys that millennials (perhaps distracted by constant Tinder-swiping) have less sex than previous generations. She discusses pandemic puppies, professional cuddlers, the importance of touch, “desire discrepancy” in marriage, and the value of friendships. Online dating, she suggests, might give users too many options; and the internet facilitates “infidelity-related behaviors.” Some technological advances will help us develop and maintain intimate relationships—our phones, for example, can be bridges to emotional support. Some, on the other hand, might leave us out of touch. Drouin explores both of these possibilities.
“At a time when technology seems to provide endless connectivity, it also leaves us strangely isolated. Throughout this insightful and entertaining book, Drouin highlights the path forward and left me, personally, optimistic about the future.”
Keith A. Grossman, President, TIME
“Illuminating, engaging, and well-written, this book deftly weaves together anecdotes, scientific evidence, and survivalist tips that will provide useful and necessary guidance to all who read it.”
Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra, DO, President, and Founder of Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development
“A fascinating book that examines how modern technology can assist in our pursuit to meet human needs for love, connection, and fulfillment. Weaving personal anecdotes with scientific research, it is full of rich wisdom for how to survive and thrive in a world of advancing technologies and a pandemic.”
Susan Sprecher, Distinguished Professor, Illinois State University
“A detailed articulation of the current state of human loneliness and the impact of technology platforms (hardware and software) to enable but at the same time mitigate the loss of meaningful human connections.
Michael J. Mirro, SVP and Chief Academic Research Officer, Parkview Health System; Clinical Professor of Medicine, Indiana University
“With the proliferation of our omnipresent 'screens,' it is even more challenging to be attuned to our intimacy needs. In this very readable and enjoyable book, Michelle Drouin does an amazing job weaving in psychology, technology, artificial intelligence, and even biochemistry to help us understand the role of intimacy in our lives. As an aid to our personal intimacy issues, she offers us straightforward 'survival' tips that are cogent and appealing. Finishing this fascinating book in one sitting, I feel more hopeful for our society than I have felt in decades of studying the psychological impact of technology.”
Larry D. Rosen, Professor of Psychology, California State University, Dominguez Hills; author of seven books, including the PROSE Award–winning The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World (with Adam Gazzaley)
Drouin offers tips for how to embrace the online world without jeopardising real-life experiences, from limiting screen-time to dating more decisively. Using cold, hard statistics (the average person reportedly touches their phone 2,617 times a day), personal anecdotes and colourful analogies (Tinder swiping is like a sushi conveyor belt), she proves that intimacy is crucial to our health and happiness and compels us not to lose it to accidental tech addiction.