Virtual social media has one very anti-social flaw. It can’t relay temperature. This creates a socially disconnected experience because we humans need to feel another person’s presence in multiple ways, including through physical warmth.
Research shows we can be tricked into feeling EMOTIONALLY warm just by making us feel physically warm!
Holding a warm hand can buffer a stress response. The warmth of physical contact can lower heart rate and blood pressure during a stressful experience and physical affection between partners is associated with lower cortisol levels in work-related stress settings.
“In a recent study, the brain activity of 110 volunteers (around half of whom were female) was monitored as they anticipated small electric shocks to their ankles while holding someone’s hand. They were tested in three conditions: they held the hand of the person they chose to bring along for the study (a friend or partner), they held the hand of a stranger or they did not hold anyone’s hand at all.”
“Holding the hand of the person they brought along resulted in a significant difference in the brain’s activity pattern. There was less activity in the . . . regions associated with self-regulation, when compared to not holding anyone’s hand.”
“The brain’s activity pattern when holding the hand of a stranger was comparable to not holding anyone’s hand at all. It seems we confer our loved ones with great power over ourselves, but we don’t easily give strangers this privilege.”
If you can’t find a warm hand, hold a cup of coffee instead!
“Briefly holding a warm cup of coffee can make people see others as having a “warmer” personality and increases social connection. Opioid signaling is thought to be involved in the mechanistic pathway since the opioid antagonist naltrexone seems to block this effect.”
Hmmm, I wonder if that’s what makes meeting at coffee shops so popular?