Friday, June 19, 2020

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: No Hand For Writing And Shaking?

I wrote in 2014 in this space about the approaching extinction
of handwriting or cursive script. Now, in response to the
current pandemic, the same fate seems to await the
widespread practice of handshaking.

The ritual of the handshake goes back at least 27 centuries
when it was visually portrayed by the king of Assyria shaking
hands with the king of Babylonia. It was apparently common
practice in much of the ancient world. Homer mentions it
frequently in The Iliad and The Odyssey.  But it only became
common modern practice in the 17h century when  Quakers
popularized it as more egalitarian than bowing or tipping
one’s hat, then the common practices. From ancient to
modern times it has always been a gesture of trust,
friendship, agreement and peaceful greeting.

What handwriting and handshaking have inherently in
common is linking --- the joining of letters of a word
and the touching between two persons.

Perhaps their disuse is emblematic of our age of increasing
social severance and isolation. In any event, there are now
no visible good prospects for either handwriting or

We already know what replaces handwriting, but what will
we substitute for the handshake?

It would seem that Japanese-styled bowing one’s head is
not an option in he U.S., but perhaps a slight nod will do it.
Or  a wave?  A thumbs-up? An outstretched arm, with or
without a “Hail!,” is definitely out. And unless you are in
military, not a salute. Men don’t wear hats much any more,
so tipping one won’t work. A small (non-touching) foot kick?

What to do?

The handshake worked well in its day, but now it seems
it’s time for something new. I don’t think it will be elbow
touching --- or any other kind of touching.

A generation that moves by skateboard will come up with


Copyright (c) 2020 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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