An embarrassing incident happened in my hometown last week, involving a stolen mannequin. The details about the incident are further below if you’re curious.
But what struck me about the odd incident was not about how strange and crazy the man seemed. I was more curious about his state of emotional suffering. What would lead a man to such as bizarre action? What makes someone seek companionship in a mannequin?
I’ll go ahead and tell you, I don’t have any answers in this post (especially in his circumstance).
But I am going to try and share just how important it is that those within our circles of influence (family, coworkers and neighbors) feel that they are loved, cared for and above all else…valued. There seems to be a growing disconnect within our human experience. And research suggests it might stem from a physical human interaction!
Suicide and Social Media
It seems, to me, that in a society when we are more connected than ever via cell phones, devices and all sorts of social media, people are suffering from a lack of human connections like never before. It happens whether you have three Facebook friends or 3,000. Because quantity does not equate to quality.
According to the CDC, suicide is the
- third leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 to 14
- the rate of suicide increased by 24 percent between 1999 to 2014
- and men are more vulnerable to suicide than women
Y’all people are suffering. And we have the power to do something about it.
The Power of Touch
One way to help our loved ones feel loved, cared for and valued is using the power of touch. An often-quoted UCLA study reports that men and women need eight to 10 meaningful touches per day to maintain emotional and physical health.
“The UCLA researchers defined meaningful touch as a gentle touch, stroke, kiss or hug given by significant people in our lives (a husband or wife, parent, close friend, and so on).” Dr. John Trent – The Blessing
Psychology Today describes touch as a secret weapon in successful relationships.
It’s the first language we learn and researchers have even documented positive effects in the NBA. One study found that touch predicted how well teams would perform during the season. The more on-court touching there was early in the season, the more successful teams and individuals were by the season’s end.
In short, touch makes relationships stronger and is a marker of connectedness. And every day, headlines, like the one in my hometown, remind us that people are hurting. We need to be connected now more than ever.
A Word from the Good Book, Old Timers and Diana Ross
Maybe that’s why the Good Book encourages us to ‘touch and agree.’ Maybe that’s why the Old Timers at church still believe in the power of ‘laying on of hands.’ Like I said, I don’t have any answers.
But I do know, that if we are going to help heal our nation, our families, and hearts of our loved ones. Perhaps we should start with the advice of Diana Ross by reaching out and touching somebody’s hand.
Okay, so now the story you were really waiting for: A man stole a mannequin from a Nashville lingerie store. He was later found in bed with that mannequin. When I saw the story, I wondered if he was missing crucial human interaction in his life? There may be more issues, influencing this man’s actions, but his story can serve as a reminder that we all need to better focus on our quality people-to-people engagement.
BMWK: What else can we do to foster connectedness in our families and communities?