Shaking Hands and Christmas Unsafety

Shaking Hands and Christmas Unsafety

Santa Claus in Gas MaskI remember as a young child we would tease each other about touching girls and boys. ‘Ah, you’ve got girl germs’ we would say to tease our mates if they happened to brush against a girl, or we would push them into a girl and then make the accusation.

Of course, we know that customs and greetings are very unsafe activities, kissing and shaking hands are high risk activities. Christmas is perhaps the most unsafe time of the year. At Christmas time there is nothing quite like a firm handshake with a mate you greet or a peck on the cheek or lips of his partner. It says much more than you are my friend, these customs risk the sharing of germs as a term of endearment. Perhaps that’s why we do it.

We learn that some are advocating that these customary greetings in society be stopped for safety reasons. We should apparently bow and nod like the Cambodians or bump fists, but not rub noses or shake hands (http://www.ozy.com/immodest-proposal/dont-shake-on-it/64452?utm_source=HF1&utm_medium=pp&utm_campaign=pp). Leslie Nguyen-Okwu tells us that such customs as shaking hands are a ‘time bomb’. We should apparently stop and ask where your hands have been before we grab it and shake it. When you go to public toilets wash your hand after you handle the toilet door, carry wipes with you.

George Carlin tells us that this is more for the obsession of western society with safety (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnmMNdiCz_s&app=desktop). There are all these germs we must fear.

But there is a paradox, humans have an immune system that requires exposure to germs to build up resistance, this is the paradox of harm and hormesis. The fixation with cleanliness actually works in reverse, (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2118871/How-keeping-children-clean-wreck-immune-systems.html), it turns out a little bit of harm is good for you.

This week we learned that the ‘Anti-Vaxxers’ were tearing down vaccination posters in public hospitals in Victoria (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/outrage-as-antivaxxers-tear-down-hospital-vaccination-posters/news-story/5b5106207f86cb25411b399fbc2d1199?nk=a80bdab7ce0abdaee8ffca64f4ed8615-1450992228). Anti-Vaxxers justify vandalism in the name of good by preventing the promotion of no harm through the injection of harm, get it??? Nothing like simplistic safety getting in the way of good by preventing harm. The message from the professionals is clear, if you want your child to have a good immune system, give them some harm today and build up their immune system for tomorrow. It makes less sense to prevent vaccination in the name of no harm when in the long run it puts children more at risk. Those in binary small world say no. Yes, there is a risk, but risk makes sense.

So, what do we do at Christmas, kiss and shake hands or bump and bow? I think I’ll be kissing and shaking and exchange all my share of Christmas germs in the name of friendship and good cheer.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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