A 3D image of Out of Touch by Michelle Drouin

Featured book: Out of Touch

Michelle Drouin, a behavioral scientist, explores love, belongingness, and fulfillment in a modern, “connected” world

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 the kind for which we are longing? Add in a pandemic, and you have a recipe for loneliness.

"Cover for Out of Touch"

In Out of Touch: How to Survive an Intimacy Famine, Professor of Psychology and behavioral scientist 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 (a reward chemical) rather than the huge shots of oxytocin (a love hormone) that an intimate in-person relationship would provide. “It’s a trade that leaves us wanting,” Drouin writes.

“With the proliferation of our omnipresent ‘screens,’ it is even more challenging to be attuned to our intimacy needs. 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,” writes Larry D. Rosen, Professor of Psychology at California State University and author of The Distracted Mind. “As an aid to our personal intimacy issues, she offers us straightforward ‘survival’ tips that are cogent and appealing.”

Her “survival tips” cover topics from raising children to having a happy marriage, to dating in a modern world and growing old happily. Among many other ideas, she suggests:

  • Make a goal of having at least one hug per day that lasts for 20 seconds or more;
  • Put in the effort to sustain friendships and relationships that are of value to you—but if there is no reciprocity, find new ones;
  • Overcome your reluctance to connect with strangers in meaningful ways;
  • Put your phone to good use by using it to connect with loved ones (like texting your friends while you wait in line for your coffee or calling your grandmother during your commute);
  • Talk to or interact with a pet when you are lonely—and if you don’t own a pet, visit a shelter or take the neighbor’s dog for a walk.

Although Out of Touch offers tangible, applicable advice on how to feel more connected, Drouin argues that the aim of her work is a bit broader. The point of her book, she writes, is “to draw your attention to the myriad issues we are confronting as humans in modern society and really think about them, perhaps in ways you’ve never thought about them before.”

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