Humanity was incredible. There was so much we had done. We could talk to each other, even meet each other for the first time, over the phone. A text message was a more common way to tell someone you loved them or missed them than actually telling them. In fact, a meme would often do. You didn’t have to use words at all.
Yet, for all our great tools of communication, we craved touch. You see, it was one thing calling your mother from another city, it was another to sit beside her as you tell her you’re tired. Your friends could only joke on a video call amidst a pandemic as you felt like they were there, but spending months waiting to get a hug was perhaps, even worse.
A friend couldn’t put their hand on your shoulder as you lose yourself in your anxiety and sadness, never to return. Of course, you could call them, but they’d be out of words. We seldom have words for terrible situations. It was our instinct to comfort someone with our entire being, instead of a box vibrating in our throats.
And to be in love from a distance was the worst of all. Love has so little to do with words. As a writer who has failed to find it, I should know best. Love has everything to do with holding their hand and looking them in the eye. It was so much more than a text message or a disappearing image. Love was about hugs and embrace, and soft, unintended brushes between hands while you don’t pay heed to them and smile instead.
It seems we were only realising now that before we had words, all we had were sounds, and before that, all we had was touch. For most of our history, we’ve talked in gestures and we’ve talked in touch. Talking has so little to do with language. Now, everyone focused on the words, everything focused on the words, and no one talked because they couldn’t.
Perhaps, one day, we will invent touch again. Until then, I hope your text messages can still reassure a friend. I hope you call someone knowing all too well you can’t say anything that will fix anything at all. I hope you miss your father and your mother and your brother, and I hope their faces within a rectangular box are enough.
I hope you can bear with the helplessness, until we invent touch again.