Handshakes Were Never Good Anyway

"Ah, a stranger. I shall clasp his ham hock in mine own to suggest that I don't mean to stab him."
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Photo by Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Families don’t always agree with each other, and we here at VICE are no different. True, we usually stand behind one another’s excellent opinions like “You should sing My Chemical Romance’s ‘The Black Parade’ instead of ‘Happy Birthday’ while washing your hands” and “Loving Baby Yoda is the only ethical form of child-rearing we have left.” But sometimes, we diverge.

For example, Life desk senior staff writer Hannah Smothers recently wrote about how groups from Silicon Valley investment firms to Canadian minor-league soccer teams were banning handshakes in an effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus. Instead of banning handshakes, everyone could simply wash their hands—something that is always a good idea, especially when we are staring down the barrel of a global epidemic.


But I disagree that we should keep on shaking hands with each other, as if the very act of doing so is not totally deranged. Think about it: You walk into a party. Someone’s like “Hey, Kristy Marceline!” (Your name is Kristy Marceline.) “Come meet my friend David.” You hold out your hand. David holds out his. You clasp hands and move your claspèd doublehand up and down and up and down with a lot of force to prove to that you’re happy to see each other. You use a lot of force, but not too much force, as shaking hands with David too strongly or too weakly will make him think that you’re a terrible person, fundamentally flawed to her core.

This is ridiculous logic, and we just accept it on a daily basis without thinking twice!

People have been shaking hands since at least as far back as the 5th century B.C. Doing so was a way of showing others that you came in peace and did not plan to pull your sword on whoever you were greeting. "A handshake showed you meant the other person no harm,” manners expert William Hanson told the BBC in 2018. “It's important today as it's a sign of trust and friendship." That’s all well and good, but who uses swords anymore? The only weapon that can hurt me these days is cyberbullying, and you can do that with a hands-free headset. The handshake serves no practical purpose in the modern age!

How about instead of clutching palms like two buffed-down starfishes 69’ing each other’s indecipherable genitalia, we just…don’t! If you want someone to know that you are happy to see them, a simple nod and a smile would suffice. You can also just use your words! Tell them, “I am happy to see you” or “Nice to meet you” or “I’m not going to stab you.” I doubt anyone is really going to mourn the handshake. I mean, when was the last time you thought to yourself, “Man, I could really go for a handshake right now”? Exactly. Never. Perhaps it’s time to let this one go.

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