Are you like most Americans who meet and greet with a firm handshake? We've been raised to consider this welcoming sign of hello as polite and expected, and most folks extend an arm and open hand without a second thought.
While the practice seems practical and pleasant, the shake could cause more harm than good. Even if you're the furthest thing from a germaphobe, knowing that something as simple as a handshake could make you ill is reason enough to wave off the next oncoming handshake.
You may keep your hands squeaky clean, but who knows where the hands of others have been? Think of all the filthy surfaces they've possibly touched, food they've recently eaten, and their last trip to the bathroom, to name a few of the ways all sorts of dirt, grime, and bacteria have made a home in their hands. Are you reaching for the hand sanitizer yet?
As per The Guardian, "Dirty hands can transmit infections such as noroviruses and salmonella that cause diarrhea and vomiting, rhinoviruses that can give you a cold, as well as the viruses that cause flu and chickenpox. Diseases that spread rapidly and can be fatal, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile, can also lurk on hands. The bugs can stay on them for hours and be transferred to surfaces and door handles for other people to share."
What to do? Independent has a modern and effective solution, "Fist bumps and high-fives are better greetings than firm handshakes. Even adopting a limper, weaker grip when meeting people would have a noticeable impact on the spread of infectious diseases."
CBS Philly reported, "(A fist bump will) transmit just 1/20 the amount of bacteria from a handshake, according to the American Journal of Infection Control." With a finding as significant as this, why not bring on the bump and shy away from the shake?
When your health is more valuable than a germ-filled greeting (which it ought to be), shaking off the handshake is a smart idea. There are plenty of other ways to introduce yourself and say hello to others that don't involve an exchange of yuck and muck.
Do you think the practice of handshaking will fade away or will we always grab hands and hope for the best?
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