Human beings are social beings, meaning they thrive in a communal environment where their different skill sets are brought together to achieve a common purpose. Human beings are also affectionate in nature, so physical touches such as handshakes, hugs, kisses, and cuddles are used to send various nonverbal communication.
Over the years, a handshake has transformed from a social greeting to a social instinct as we inadvertently reach out to shake hands whenever we spot an acquaintance or lean-in for a quick hug in case of closer relations. For many of us, especially people from the motherland of Africa, shaking hands is taught at the early stages of life.
My mother, Odilia, taught me to touch elders’ heads as a greeting when I was little, by my teenage years, she insisted that I shake hands with everyone she introduced me to, along with a “Shikamoo.” Handshakes are viewed as a gesture of respect, and in many instances, such as business meetings, to initiate positive communication.
Hugs, though viewed as “western” to some, it is a common thing among many tribes such as Nyakyusa, Ngoni, Hehe in their greetings. Nyakyusas hugs a lot, “ofwa” is a greeting that goes along a warm, embraced hug to an acquaintance. These physical gestures are as old as mankind.
However, with Coronavirus pandemic looming, countries across the world continue to implement strict social distancing measures in a bid to contain the spread of the COVID-19, the epidemic also seems to threaten the entire face of normalcy including the concept of personal greetings. Signaling an end to hugging and handshakes norms.
US Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci, was once quoted saying “ I Don’t think We should ever Shake hands again, why are we doing it to start with? To be honest with you, not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease, it probably would dramatically decrease instances of influenza.”
“ I Don’t Think We Should Ever Shake Hands Again, why are we doing it to start with?
Quotes like this, from known experts, create fears which, in turn, leads to change of human behaviors, fears change human beings because it is a powerful motivator, and a desire for safety may trump one’s dedication to the handshake. The irony is, the innocent handshake has shifted to a potential carrier of a dangerous disease. This is because when your hands touch a surface, you may actually pick hundreds of bacteria and viruses.
So, even though a few years ago, refusing a handshake or a hug would have been seen as an obscene gesture, people may gradually learn that it is a way out of danger.
Where do we go from here?
Thankfully, though it will seem awkward at first, a human being can still greet without handshakes or hugs. Here are some few points as collected from various sources:
1. Namaste, Namaskar
This is a famous non-physical Hindu greeting that involves joining your hands and flashing your smile to greet someone. Namaste remains by far as one of the most popular ways of social greeting. It is hygienic, respectable, and does not include any gestures that you may have to learn from scratch.
2.The elbow bump
If namaste seems too formal to greet your friends and co-workers, may we suggest the part-fun and completely safe elbow bump? Top health officials across the globe are also recommending elbow bump as an informal means of greeting.
Yes, the good, old waving of hands still seems a plausible way of greeting, especially when the greeting is not very close contact.
4. Wuhan shake (Foot shake):
The Wuhan shake (foot greeting or foot-tapping) seems to be an incredibly fun of greeting and has gone viral on social media platforms. It is vibrant and can cause humor or two, which is a gist of it all.
5. Hand on your heart
A standard greeting in the Arab world, used with the phrase asalaam aleikum, which translates to “peace be upon you,” accompanying gestures, vary from place to place, but mostly putting the right hand to the heart to demonstrates genuine happiness to meet someone.
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