Kory Floyd has never been more popular. A professor of communication at the University of Arizona, Floyd researches affection and loneliness. Since the pandemic began, friends and journalists have been asking him: Why are we so hungry for touch?
“I’m hearing a lot from people that this has been one of the biggest surprises about the pandemic: They didn’t realize they would miss touch as much as they have,” says Floyd.
Whether you call it skin hunger (the popular phrase) or touch deprivation (the clinical term), the pandemic has awakened a longing for touch that many of us haven’t quite felt before. Skin hunger can feel as sharp and heavy as hunger for food. It can make us irritable, sluggish, aggressive, sleepless, and sad. It can even damage our immune systems.