By Dayna Mason
I’ve never enjoyed shaking hands and I hope after the pandemic is over it doesn’t make a comeback. The handshake is an often disingenuous and oddly intimate gesture for an initial engagement with someone you don’t know. Grabbing a stranger’s sweaty hand and being subjected to varying degrees of finger crushing force, never made sense to me. I mean, seriously, I don’t know where that hand has been, but I have a fairly disgusting idea. I’ve seen people on the freeway, picking their noses in their cars, believing that no one could see them. I’ve seen people come out of the bathroom stall and head straight for the door without washing their hands. I’ve seen people sneeze into their hands and scratch themselves in places I want nothing to do with.
Who decided this form of greeting was a good idea?
History of the handshake
According to History.com, “One popular theory is that the gesture began as a way of conveying peaceful intentions. By extending their empty right hands, strangers could show that they were not holding weapons and bore no ill will toward one another. Some even suggest that the up-and-down motion of the handshake was supposed to dislodge any knives or daggers that might be hidden up a sleeve.”
It’s time to abandon shaking hands
Given that most of us no longer greet each other prepared for a duel, it’s time to retire the tradition of extending one of our dirtiest body parts as a form of introduction. Even if the only reason is to prevent the spread of illness. But, for many reasons, it’s a good practice to keep our hands to ourselves, especially with strangers.
Let’s abandon the tradition of shaking hands and replace it with something fun like the elbow bump—for those who are less comfortable with touching—which also looks kind of hip, or with something more genuinely affectionate like the full-on hug for those who love to touch (but only after asking for permission).
Or we can just genuinely smile at each other when we meet and save touching for when we know each other better.
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