Coronavirus impact on the handshake and high five

What are we doing right now that our kids and grandkids will think is insane years from now? I have a strong opinion that fashion and appearance will not be all that different in 2070 than it is today. It took the United States hundreds of years of trial and error, but my generation of humans (I’m 26) finally figured it out. We’ve largely phased out mustaches, men’s short shorts and glasses that cover the entire face, and America has never been sexier.

One area that is already being discussed is the future of the handshake because of the coronavirus. Could this be it? Dr. Anthony Fauci went on a Wall Street Journal podcast and said the handshake should be eliminated for the rest of time.

“I don’t think we should ever shake hands ever again, to be honest with you. Not only would it be good to prevent coronavirus disease; it probably would decrease instances of influenza dramatically in this country.”

Eliminate the handshake

Up until now, I used the handshake as a big advantage for interviews, business meetings and girlfriends’ parents. Not to brag, but I come in hard with an elite handshake. My handshake does exactly what a handshake is designed to do, which is to fool the recipient into thinking I know what I’m doing in the given situation.

Despite eliminating one of my few strengths, I’m okay with the death of the handshake. It had a good run, but there are a variety of reasons why its demise needs to be part of the legacy of the coronavirus.

It’s gross and it took a pandemic for us to realize it’s gross. If you watched a day in the life of the average human hand, I think we’d all consider amputation at birth going forward. It has to be one of the most disgusting, germ-infested items on the planet. Hands have minds of their own and wander to places they shouldn’t throughout the day.

There are bad handshakers among us. You know a few people who come to mind right away. Dead fish handshakes and even worse, the knuckle buster. I once met a former NFL player who I knew going in probably didn’t like me, and that was confirmed by the handshake that nearly shattered each finger that belongs to my right hand.

I hate to hand shame, but some people have bad hands. I’ve long been complimented by my soft, smooth hands but some people aren’t as fortunate as me. If I see a sweaty, calloused hand, a mangled finger or nails in need of deep cleaning, call me crazy but I’d rather not touch it.

Where does this leave the high five?

While I’m in agreement the handshake must go, I’m not sure I’m comfortable going cold turkey on the high five. Fist bumps and daps made one hell of a move in American culture over the decades, but the high five is criminally underrated as a fantastic morale booster. I’m taking the glass half-full approach and project a boost in the high five community once we’re through with the pandemic.

Imagine you’re going into a job interview and instead of giving a nervous, grimy handshake, you hit your potential employer with a high five. Everybody feels better about the situation, tension is gone and you’re stoked to get this job. According to Inside Higher Ed, the average handshake duration is between 2-5 seconds. In a workforce that promotes efficiency, that’s an eternity. Hands connect for less than half a second with the high five.

While high fives are undoubtedly essential to American camaraderie, that’s not to say we can’t alter it a little bit. Regardless of the coronavirus, we need to put an end to the double high five. Is that what it’s called? I have no idea, but the success rate of solid contact for both hands at the same time is incredibly low. Perfect example: the suites of NFL owners, who continue to embarrass themselves on national TV trying to perform the high risk, low reward task.

Lastly, let’s do away with the free throw low five. I’m guilty of this and almost 100% of the time I will go for a low five in an organized basketball game for my teammate no matter whether he made or missed the free throw. I could see this going away as one of the casualties of the coronavirus, and we’d all be better for it.

Years from now after greeting the young ones with a crisp, perfected high five, we’ll tell our grandchildren of this crazy thing we used to do called the handshake.