When you touch another human being there are a lot of ‘defences’ that trigger. Personal space, peripheral neurones, societal concepts, personal understanding of the matter and many more. For the most part, especially since I have been living in a muslim country, I have learned that touching someone is too private for many and it is not a great way to establish first contact. Handshakes, a manner of the West, serve exactly the purpose to break these defences and force people to establish a more intimate and honest interaction, however, not everyone is used to this manner.
So, I have learned to establish first contact in another way, a more distanced way that allows people to remain calm and mindful in the interaction – giving them an object. It is almost the same as a handshake, however, the spacial distance that the object provides and the inanimate touch that it gives make the interaction process more subtle and smooth, without the explicit feeling. Of course, the more subtle something is the less people notice it, so you can say that often times this interaction is one sided, but not always, which makes it even more exciting for me to participate in.
An example of such an interaction is the mythological story of Prometheus who gave fire to the people. It was one sided and included no physical contact but it is the greatest gift from the gods to humanity and it is essential for their survival. Like the Doors sang “come on baby, light my fire” there is a lot to giving things to people that stays below the surface of explicit interactions. My personal favourite is giving someone a lighter. It is a very mixed-blessing interaction to being with – satisfying a desire, and poisoning at the same time. Its importance is overlooked by most people because it is such a small mundane event but I see the irony and thus very carefully consider people’s involvement in it.
Furthermore, giving something to someone unexpectedly or without him asking, is also beautiful and unpredictable in results. The moment you stretched arm meets the other person’s, even with the object barrier in between, you kind of get connected. In many sci-fi works there is an object that symbolises this connection, that serves as a transmitter better than a normal touch. I think having a special object to emphasise the importance of making a connection, amplifies the interaction and minimises the feeling of it. So it is a thing for people who care.