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Goodbye, hugs and handshakes

How we greet others, show respect, affection and love differs around the world. The western way of shaking hands, kissing cheeks and in my neck of the woods, hugging friends and even remote acquaintances may have become obsolete.


I'm thinking about short and long-term social effects of the Corona pandemic, of course. While some may find the end of hugging a relief, not to speak of cheeks kissing in Southern Europe, the demise of the handshake leaves a gaping hole in ordinary social settings.

The handshake has been practised as a sign of mutual confidence and sealing of deals for ages around the world. In more recent times it has become a widespread greeting gesture when bumping into acquaintances or at the start of gatherings and meetings. In fact, it has become a universally accepted interaction, imparting a sense of urban modernity.

In the foreseeable future we are forced to abstain from the easily given handshake, for obvious hygiene reasons. And in the long haul, it might vanish completely. Whether it will be replaced for good by hands on the left side of the chest or the slight bow, possibly accompanied with hands pressed together, remains to be seen.

One thing is for sure, though. Should handshakes, embraces and kisses on cheeks vanish, a lot of literature, movies and tv series will feel oddly out of date and out of place. But, so will probably a lot of other practises and habits. One day soon, being squeezed inside an overcrowded bus or subway car will feel as remote and incomprehensible as living without your smart phone.


Read what BBC News writes: Coronavirus: Will we ever shake hands again?