Should we just stop shaking hands already?

trump and abe
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

In his 1997 book “The Art of the Comeback”, Donald Trump wrote:

“One of the curses of American society is the simple act of shaking hands, and the more successful and famous one becomes the worse this terrible custom seems to get,. I happen to be a clean hands freak. I feel much better after I thoroughly wash my hands, which I do as much as possible.”

He has told press conferences that “I’m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way, believe me.” In The World According to Trump he is quoted as saying:

I am not a big fan of the handshake. I think it’s barbaric. I mean, they have medical reports all the time. Shaking hands, you catch colds, you catch the flu, you catch this, you catch all sorts of things. Who knows what you don’t catch.


That’s why his handshake with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was so strange; The Japanese do not shake hands with each other and bow instead. They shake hands with Gaijin (foreigners) out of respect but as noted on e-diplomat: “A handshake is appropriate upon meeting. The Japanese handshake is limp and with little or no eye contact.” Trump also hugged the Prime Minister, which is unheard of in Japan; as they note on E-diplomat:

  • Do not stand close to a Japanese person. Avoid touching.
  • Don’t show affection, such as hugging or shoulder slapping, in public.
  • Prolonged eye contact (staring) is considered rude.




It doesn’t happen often, but this TreeHugger totally agrees with Mr. Trump and thinks that we need an executive order ordering the end of handshakes. Melissa Breyer has written in in MNN that we should fist-bump instead:

New research from Aberystwyth University in Wales found that the so-called fist bump – once relegated to the realm of athletes, now employed as a gesture of greeting by clergymen and world leaders alike – spreads one-20th the amount of bacteria that a traditional handshake does. The fist bump even bested the old-school high-five, which transmitted about half the bacteria of a handshake.

Melissa concludes with a quote from the researcher:

It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake; however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative to the handshake.

I vote for the no-contact greeting, a little bow of the head goes a long way. What do you think?


Tags: Bacteria | Health

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