B'H, I live near to all my family. I have not had to deal with the pain of separation; I can see and touch my nieces and nephews on a regular basis. Uh, and their parents, too. Yeah, um, right, they're also important.
If there were 10,000 miles between us, would Skype provide the same experience? Is it the same to kiss a screen, rather than to kiss the actual cheek?
Richard Kearney notices that technology has replaced the tactile sense ("Losing Our Touch"). But it's not so simple.
In the ancient world, Aristotle favored touch as the most superior sense, while Platonists argued that sight won. The latter position is what has held sway, especially now with our reliance on screens.
The move toward excarnation is apparent in what is becoming more and more a fleshless society. In medicine, “bedside manner” and hand on pulse has ceded to the anonymous technologies of imaging in diagnosis and treatment. In war, hand-to-hand combat has been replaced by “targeted killing” via remote-controlled drones. If contemporary warfare renders us invulnerable to those who cannot touch us, can we make peace without a hand to shake? (Think of Mandela-de Klerk or Begin-Sadat).
Moreover, certain cyber engineers now envisage implanting transmission codes in brains so that we will not have to move a finger — or come into contact with another human being — to get what we want. The touch screen replaces touch itself. The cosmos shrinks to a private monitor; each viewer a disembodied self unto itself.
Dovid HaMelech was spattered in the blood of his enemies, and yet, he was a soulful poet, whose works are invoked to appeal to the Heavens. Without touch, Kearney says, there is no empathy. We don't feel for others. The flesh is not just flesh.
. . . soul becomes flesh, where it belongs.
Babi has dementia. Conversation with her is no longer possible. Luke adamently told Ma to hold her hand, since touch will still get through.
So Ma did. She sat next to Babi, rather than her usual spot opposite, which would be in her line of vision. She grasped her hand. She squeezed gently.
To her surprise, Babi squeezed back.