The loss of human touch in Maltese society
Post-modern society is robbing humans of the gift of touch and physical face-to-face interaction. A new world order is craftily being interwoven and instituted where people are placing more trust in technology rather than the human person. The seriousness of the matter seems to be ignored by most of us.
The benefits of the human touch
A simple hug or even a caress many times may be interpreted as an unsolicited sexual advance, even if made under the most innocent of pretexts. Recent reports in the local media suggest that even holding a youngster can lead to being charged in court.
We may soon bid farewell to the loving, strong, sensitive human cuddle and affection.
Interestingly, human touch, especially physical, is healing and the hormone Oxytocin reveals the benefit of physical touch or acts of cuddling.
Oxytocin helps humans connect to others and promotes feel-good sensations that foster a sense of well-being and happiness. Known as the “feel good” hormone, Oxytocin helps inspire positive thinking as well as maintaining an optimistic outlook on the world.
Physical touch increases levels of dopamine and serotonin; two neurotransmitters that help regulate mood as well as relieving the body from stress and anxiety. Dopamine is also known to regulate the pleasure centre in the brain that is a good to counter feelings of anxiety.
The non-stop mushrooming of massage parlours around Malta seems to suggest the ever-increasing yearning for sensitive and relaxing human touch and perhaps uncovers the loss of it in our homes and marital relationships. It might not be too long before the sale of silicon sex dolls will be a common feature of Maltese society to com- pensate for the lack of love and touch.
Information technology through the social media is also gradually taking over face-to-face communications as people avoid physical contact and prefer to chat and interact online.
This has further compounded the matter as people find themselves more at ease in expressing their intimacy in situations of virtual reality or hyper-reality.
Distracted Walking Law
Another recent and evident phenomenon of the impact of technology in our daily lives is that many people walking our streets or using public transport are also deeply immersed in their electronic gadgets. They wear headphones and are not very much interested in engaging in conversations with other people. The look on their faces speaks volumes. They look indifferent and many times are a potential hazard to motorists and even people who use Malta’s narrow pavements.
It is not the first time that I have personally witnessed irresponsible people bumping into others as they cannot properly hear or see due to their wearing headphones and focusing on what they are hearing.
Interestingly, police in Honolulu, as of 2017, started writing tickets for people who are distracted by their mobile while walking on a pedestrian crossing.
Honolulu is the first major city in America to pass such a law, citing a high rate of pedestrians being hit on pedestrian crossings.
According to Honolulu Police Department, more than 10,000 citations were issued for mobile electronic device violations under what is termed as the Distracted Walking Law.
Perhaps this is food for thought for the Malta Communication Authority (MCA) to suggest the enactment of legislation that makes it illegal to use a mobile not only when driving but also in instances of ‘distracted walking’.
This makes logical sense as we live in a country where, according to a recent MCA Survey, only three per cent of the population do not have a mobile subscription, most of them aged over 65.
Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
The individualistic and utilitarian society which is evolving around us plus the advanced field of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is also leading the way for humans to interact with robots rather than humans. Robots will not only steal our jobs but our human touch at the workplace as companies recruit driverless cars and lorries.
In addition, some companies are finding it easier collaborating with computers. For instance, LinkedIn, which is the social network for professional people, is making it increasingly easier to recruit people online as management has access to the database of potential job candidates. The time for recruiting agencies seems to be over.
Lack of self-esteem
It is not surprising that there is so much negativity and lack of sincere human touch in our secular culture. A world that provides no basis for unconditional self-acceptance is not a friend to our souls.
The above background is creating a new society where robots, machines and computers outperform and supersede humans and all that is human.
This is definitely a clear indication of the beginning of the end of all that is human. A truly threatening and scary scenario where matter controls mind! Anthony Zarb-Dimech