As we emerge from the pandemic, we begin to see the return of a millennial ritual: the sinking of hands.
Many of us spent a year or more without taking someone else’s hands. But as vaccination rates increase and social distancing restrictions decrease, we begin to pressure the meat again.
“I’m shaking hands with people when they offer it to me,” said Sheila Nezhad, a Minneapolis mayoral candidate. Nezhad, who recently started face-to-face campaigns, has been exchanging punches, elbow punches and the traditional grab and smile, although at first it was a little disorienting to put on.
“I had the feeling of getting back on the bike after a while of it,” he said.
“I don’t think we should ever shake hands again, to be honest with you,” White House Health Adviser Anthony Fauci said in April 2020. “Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, but which would probably decrease flu cases dramatically in this country. “
“He’s never been safe,” said Dr. Gregory Poland, a Mayo Clinic doctor and professor specializing in infectious diseases and vaccines.
Handshake carries the risk of transmitting a number of undesirable conditions, including norovirus, food poisoning and “manual transmission of fecal bacteria,” Poland said.
“We’re not talking about a minor issue,” he said. “Would you lick someone’s hand?”
Handshake may have started as an old custom to prove to a stranger that you have no weapon in hand. But in fact, bring to a certain level a biological weapon in your hand without washing, said Poland.
“I won’t shake hands,” said Dr. Mark Sklansky, a professor and pediatric cardiologist at UCLA. “I think it’s really a bad habit.”
Sklansky campaigned against handshakes that spread to the disease before COVID-19, writing articles such as “Banning the Handshake From the Health Care Setting,” published by JAMA in 2014.
More recently, he has been writing songs for music videos, urging people not to shake up. (Sample letter: “Dear good-hearted friend, I know you mean to hold out your hand well when we meet. But leave me open. Listen to me. I’d rather not tremble when we greet”).
We all seem to agree to take a break from holding hands during COVID-19.
“It’s unfortunate that we need a pandemic to make sense of people about how the disease is transmitted,” Sklansky said, worried that the opportunity to kill the approaching hands would slip between our fingers.
Recently, it’s been at social gatherings where “people have the hand to shake my hand”. (He won’t).
Even if there is no pandemic, no colds, no stomach flu to worry about, hand laces also carry the risk of a social glitch.
The guides for giving a proper handshake make the maneuver sound as hard as mastering the golf stroke. Your grip should be firm. But not too firm. Do not turn your hand too hard. Don’t offer a sweaty hand. No more than three bombs.
Do it wrong and you could end up being Vice President Kamala Harris, who was in pain for having his hand cleaned after shaking hands with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the White House last month.
So much can go wrong with a handshake. You have to wonder why we bother.
Holding or shaking hands as a symbol of friendship, trust, and hospitality was practiced by the Babylonian and ancient Roman kings and promoted by eighteenth-century Quakers as a more egalitarian greeting than bowing.
It has become an international ritual of agreement, respect and congratulations in modern business, politics and sports.
“A handshake has always been our personal olive branch,” said Maralee McKee, founder of the Orlando-based Etiquette School of America.
While it is clearly culturally rooted, David Givens, an anthropologist and director of the Center for Nonverbal Studies in Spokane, Washington, said our desire to shake it can go beyond protocol.
Our fellow primates — chimpanzees and gorillas — also stretch out and touch the palms and fingertips of their companions. The surface of the hand is rich in nerve endings, making it “an organ for gathering information,” Givens said.
The handshake is literally the personal, formal and intimate touch at the same time.
Scientists studying “social signaling chemistry” are trying to determine if shaking hands is one of the ways we send each other subliminal chemical signals, which help shape our behavior.
But right now, we find ourselves in a socially awkward moment of uncertainty in the handshake, when some people feel comfortable shaking hands and others don’t.
“They’re about 50-50, maybe 55-45, with 55 to shake hands,” McKee said.
In other words, you need to be socially to prevent someone from feeling uncomfortable by offering a handshake or offending someone by refusing to accept one.
The label expert at St. Paul, Juliet Mitchell, said that while the pandemic “did not kill the rapprochement of hands, we must recognize that not everything has returned to work as usual.”
If you don’t feel comfortable accepting a handshake, McKee and Mitchell advise being prepared to respond with a polite postponement.
Instead of stepping back, keep your hands on your side, keep eye contact, smile, nod, or lean slightly while saying something kind like, “I’m not shaking your hand right now, but it’s very nice to meet you.”
Then go ahead and don’t apologize, Mitchell said.
If you want, you can offer an alternative greeting gesture, which can range from a punch, an elbow blow, a namaste gesture or the wai gesture from Thailand. Moviegoers might consider a Wakanda forever greeting or a volcanic “long live and prosper” greeting.
McKee advocates what she calls remote social greeting, which is placing her right palm hand on the chest slightly above the heart with the fingertips touching the neck bone as he smiles and looks the other person in the eyes.
These hands-free alternatives are likely to be more hygienic than the traditional handshake. Experiments have shown that handshakes transfer more bacteria than punches or even big fists, and that the longer and firmer the hand survey, the more exchange of errors occurs.
Sklansky is convinced that even long-standing cultural norms can change over time if we realize their unhealthiness. (He points out that smoking used to be a common practice among doctors.)
“It’s not an easy task” to stop shaking hands, he said. “But I’m not going to give up.”
For his part, Givens said that in the future, we can find polite ways to apply Purell after meeting someone, but he is confident that we will continue to shake hands.
“A lot of people say‘ good delivery. ’But I don’t think it’s completely exhausted,” he said.
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Citation: The handshake stopped during the pandemic. Some doctors hope it has definitely gone (2021, July 1), recovered on July 1, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-handshake-hiatus-pandemic-doctors-good.html
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