Barring death, the single biggest disruption that everyone has to endure during the pandemic is the outlawing of human touch. The primal instinct that helped us strengthen and grow communities, and ensured survival of the species, has become lethal. Person-to-person contact has been the fastest way that the corona virus has spread to the entire world.
But if there were one human-touching habit that seemed to die hard, it would be the handshake. The universal gesture for agreement, respectful acknowledgment, and personal bonding is so routine, especially for world leaders, that it’s become an involuntary reaction.
These gems of historical footage-in-the-making says it all about a world adjusting to a new normal:
Angela Merkel handshake rejected amid coronavirus fears
'Sorry!': Dutch PM breaks own 'no handshake' rule at coronavirus conference
Part of the answer may be from Queen Elizabeth’s recent speech when she said that: “we will succeed…we will be with our friends again. We will be with our families again. We will meet again,” in that powerful inflection that only she can pull off. When someone who has lived through World War II, the 1952 acid smog in London, and other national crises says this, you have no choice, but to believe her.
When that happens, when we all do meet again, the first thing we’ll do is touch. And what could be more human than a handshake? What could show more trust, openness and confidence than the simultaneously very global and very personal grasping for another’s hand in a moment of bonding?
If anything, a fearless forecast would be that there will be a universal demand to bring back the traditional handshake. Because while we will survive the coronavirus pandemic, it’s uncertain how long we can bear another “coronavirus handshake challenge” or the sight of Mike Pence and leaders worldwide with their awkward attempts at elbow-bumping and other “alternatives.”
So, what do you think? Is the handshake dead?