May 19, 2024
The arrival of summer will test our resolve to social distance
Humans are social animals. We seek physical closeness and, in the response to a collective threat, we reach out for even more.
Humans are social animals. We seek physical closeness and, in the response to a collective threat, we reach out for even more.

As a boy growing up in Fox Creek, northern Alberta, Jay Van Bavel learned how to give a firm handshake. Guys would be teased if they had a flimsy grip. It was that masculine, alpha-male thing.

That small-town boy grew up to become a social neuroscience professor at New York University who, back near the end of February, before the virus that causes COVID-19 began spreading in North America in any serious way, was at a conference in New Orleans when he started watching data come in from around the world. He read how the adoption of fist bump greetings over a strong handshake might substantially reduce the spread of this new coronavirus.

Back at the conference, “everybody is shaking hands.” Four thousand people. He tweeted out the article, declaring he would be doing more fist bumps until the #coronavirus passes. “Please RT if you want to make this a social norm.” “I shared the article, and then I started fist bumping, everybody. But even people who saw the article, friends, instinctively kept reaching out for my hands,” Van Bavel remembers.

“It’s that habit we built our entire life in our culture. Shaking hands is the way you connect with somebody.”

We don’t shake hands anymore. Van Bavel also spent his childhood summers playing baseball and bunking at summer camps, typical glorious “Canadian stuff” that, this pandemic summer, like handshakes, have been scuttled in most parts of the country.

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See Also:

(1) Our high-priced deflation

(2) Canada needs to end arbitrary restrictions

(3) Parties locked in negotiations again over House of Commons’ return

(4) Air Force to hold funeral procession in Halifax for victim of Snowbirds crash

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