I’m far from the first person to consider the future of touch. The Atlantic asked, “Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?” The Guardian’s Paula Cocozza wondered, “Are We Living Through a Crisis of Touch?” The New York Times posited that “Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good.” Meanwhile, professional cuddling has gone from being a “no freaking way that exists” thing to a bona fide service that Siri can find you a local address for. Could the pendulum be swinging from “Don’t touch me!” to “Please touch me again”?
If trend forecasting is, indeed, a game of opposites, then I think we’ll see touch-deprivation check-in spots in public wellness centers where patients can go to be embraced. Executives will enroll in body language clinics where elders teach the nonverbal communication skills that have fallen out of use. Picture a return to “pheromone-based” dating, prolonged eye contact as the new Soul Cycle, skin-hunger regulated as diligently as our Fitbit steps. Hell, maybe ballroom dancing will even make a comeback, because if my experience in Mr. Paige’s fifth-grade extracurricular taught me anything, it’s that a chaperoned Viennese waltz can quickly teach you and your partner about the parameters of “good” touch.
And while I don’t yet understand how the leap will be made, I think that humans will move from spending most of their time thinking about sex to having some themselves.