Has COVID-19 killed the handshake?

  • Brian McBride
    Brian McBride

Since the COVID-19 pandemic flared up, state and national health officials have advised us about the steps we need to take to avoid contracting the virus. Social distancing. Wear face coverings. And wash and sanitize our hands. So does that mean the handshake is dead as we know it? We shake hands on everything from business deals to friendly greetings.

According to History. com, the handshake has existed in some form or another for thousands of years, but its origins are somewhat murky. 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. Yet another explanation is that the handshake was a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise. When they clasped hands, people showed that their word was a sacred bond.

So, if we’re too concerned about getting COVID-19 by shaking hands, what will replace it. I find the practice of bumping elbows just a bit silly. A hearty handshake means something; it’s genuine. Bumping elbows is a bit odd. I would expect it to be a greeting that space aliens would use if they landed on Earth.

Do we go with the fist bump? It’s subtle, although somewhat friendly. But I think even some are not comfortable with that.

What about fingerpointing made famous by Issac, the bartender, on “The Love Boat.”

Could it be just a simple head nod? How about the peace sign?

What about an eye wink – well, then again, maybe not. That could go south real quick.

The chest bump is definitely out of the question. We don’t need to be knocking each other to the floor, plus it has to be gender specific. I’d smell sexual harassment suits or at least a slap to the face.

I have shook hands since the pandemic and then showered in sanitizer. But still, who wants to roll the dice with your health.

So, I guess, we’re sticking with the elbow bump. We can just add, “I come in peace.”

Brian McBride is the editor of the Osceola News-Gazette