Today at work we got on the subject of touch and public displays of affection. People allow their own experience filters to define what is appropriate and innappropriate. This is one such case.
My personal feeling is that touch is a lost art here in the U.S. Very often you will see two people clumsily attempting to hug one another, one going for the handshake and another for the quick hug. Then once they are hugging there's a sense of urgency to break contact before it gets akward. Likewise, when sitting in a packed vehicle, people squeeze themselves in to a tight ball of flesh, attempting to touch the person next to them as little as possible.
What are our fears in this regard? Will the person be annoyed by the contact? Worse, will they enjoy the contact? Worse still, will I enjoy the contact? OOOOOOOh, scary.
But contrast our sterilized society with even the most conservative society in the Middle East. There men openly kiss one another in greeting, they make business deals by holding hands under a cloth and giving different gestures for pricing, they embrace one another hardily and without remorse. Contact happens hundreds of times a day between people.
Here, whole days can go by without a person being touched in any purposeful manner. If a person is careful they might even be able to go a week without being accidentally touched. What does that do to a person? I can't imagine going a day without someone touching me. It's hard enough to be conscious of the lack of touch for just a few hours much less purposefully avoiding touch.
It amazes me that we live in "the West" in such a progressive society and yet we still adhere to some standard set by quakers several hundred years ago. We should know enough about human sexuality, psychology, and the need for touch that we can come out of those dark ages.