Are we all, quite literally, out of touch? According to behavioral scientist Michelle Drouin, millions of people worldwide are not getting the physical, emotional, and intellectual intimacy they crave. Pandemic isolation has undoubtedly played a role, but the wonders of modern technology are connecting us with more people more often than ever before. But are these connections what we long for?
Drouin’s new book, Out of Touch, explores what she calls an intimacy famine and considers 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 take tiny hits of dopamine rather than the big shots of oxytocin that an intimate, in-person relationship would typically provide. Covering everything from pandemic puppies and professional cuddlers to the roles of sexual relationships, Drouin discusses the many pathways to intimacy and how technology can be both a help and a hindrance.
In the 128th episode of Town Hall’s In the Moment podcast, Dr. Margaret Morris and Michelle Drouin discuss technology, intimacy, and what it means to find belonging and fulfillment.
Michelle Drouin is a behavioral scientist and expert on technology, relationships, couples, and sexuality whose work has been featured or cited in the New York Times, CBS News, CNN, NPR, and other media outlets. She is Professor of Psychology at Purdue University–Fort Wayne and Senior Research Scientist at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation.
Dr. Margaret Morris is a clinical psychologist focused on how technology can support wellbeing. She is an affiliate faculty member in the Information School at the University of Washington, as well as a research consultant. Morris is the author of Left to Our Own Devices: Outsmarting Smart Technology to Reclaim Our Relationships, Health and Focus.