It is obviously as important as tasting, hearing and smelling, right up there with seeing. You don't realize just how important until it is removed from your life. I am so happy to have a wife I love, to hug, I feel for the people that don't have anybody in their life right now and are completely devoid of human contact. We humans need the emotional warmth of touch, the intimacy. So do many other animals including dolphins, elephants, dogs and cats. Probably most of them. My memory goes back to a scene from Barbarella, those of you old enough will remember the one I am visualizing. Much better than taking a pill.
I was at Major a few weeks ago and I saw a very dear friend, masked and gloved and bundled up. I called her name and we mutually did the fake elbow swing. But it wasn't enough for me and I made a move. I telegraphed a motion for a hug and she assented. Microbe be damned. Sometimes you have to roll the dice I guess. Felt good to squeeze a friend. Had not happened in a long time.
Various good articles out lately on the history of handshaking like this one. Supposedly the practice began in the fifth century before the common era, in Greece. It was a peaceful exercise to proclaim that you were not carrying a weapon, a grab and a shake to dislodge any errant knives that might be hidden up a sleeve.
Let us hope that we get back to touching again one day real soon.