I wrote this piece a couple of years ago, it talks about our over reliance on our visual sense. Never could I have imagined a time when we would be forced to social distance and depend on all our social media devices to keep us in "touch". During this crazy time it feels appropriate to kick off my blog with this little insight into why I focused on Stationary design, and why touch and feel are important to me. I hope this experience will force us to pay more attention to being in touch with all our senses, and how when we need comforting nothing feels better than the human touch.
ARE WE LOOSING OUR TOUCH? Circa FEBRUARY 2013.
I ask myself this question and immediately write it down in my loyal notebook. I just finished reading Sorrow by Claribel Alegria. One of the poems, “Prometheus”, brings a knot to my throat and sends my thoughts on a whirpool. The poet is longing for her dead husband’s touch, she is tired of his absence and his memories. I start to think about how virtual we have become, and how in reality, we don’t just long to see things, we long to touch them as well. Will the next generation know or miss the human touch?
Conversations happen in cyber space, they are incomplete sentences and LOLs. Games are played in front of a screen. Most kids play sports without knowing the feel of a ball. Through social media sites, email, text messaging, we are so overwhelmingly “in touch”, yet without the human touch.
Yes, I did originally handwrite this piece in my loyal notebook. The feel of a pen in my hand, seeing the words flow from my hand forming distinct shapes on a blank sheet of paper is just an experience in itself. My father was a merchant marine and I remember sitting next to my mother as she wrote him letters. I was mesmerized at how fast she wrote. The pen just danced across the page without pause and the blank page became a written one, a story.
We later moved to San Francisco from Chile and letters became my lifeline. A handwritten envelope in a sea of invasive typewritten mail was a connection to my family, my home, my country. Even the envelopes had a special feel. My father’s letters, aside from his beautiful penmanship, smelled of clean soap. That smell and the sight of those Air Mail stamped envelopes bring such nostalgia. I still have them after all these years.
We are stimulated visually to such an extent that we are forgetting the rest of our senses, cheating ourselves of the whole of human experience. Certainly, we are visual but there are four other senses; remember touch? Maybe we are not ready for the two-cheek kisses of Europe. But a small step towards adding the human touch to our lives is handwriting a little note now and then. Don’t you get a little excited when you see a handwritten envelope in your mail? As you touch and feel the paper, sometimes even the handwriting on the page can be felt.
Imagine how a recipient is stimulated by the beauty of the card or stationary. With the variety of papers available today, it becomes a tactile experience as well. The feel of 100 percent cotton stock, rich velvets, linens, even handmade papers encrusted with dried flowers. In the old days lovers used to perfume their love letters now I add a few lavender seeds to add smell to the experience. All of this along with your handwriting enhances the human touch, literally and otherwise.
As I mentioned before this was written in February 2013, and during this Covid-19 Stay In Shelter time, I think we can all agree that social media has filled a huge need in keeping us connected. This time has also reminded us of the importance of our physical connection, of the hugs we miss, of the shared meals, the importance of each other's physical presence. Life is about balance, and hopefully soon we will be able to hug those near, video call those far, handwrite our thoughts in our journals, send a loved one a handwritten note, use technology to keep us connected without replacing our human connection.
Olga Muñoz of 7.3.1. Designs.