Thursday, October 29, 2015

Don't touch me. The 'Touchability Index'.

I don't like shaking hands. I think it might be the reason I am a Nazi sympathizer. How wonderful it must have been to live in a Western society that greeted each other without hand touching ... the Seinfeld Heil Five (related video). Truthfully though, I've seen videos of Nazis Heil Fiving, and they often shake hands immediately afterward. It's probably why they lost the war.

Why do I have such resistance to shaking hands? Oh no - first answer why such insistence upon shaking hands! Just watch other people at a business meeting for an hour. Smartly dressed, well behaved people still unconsciously rub crud out of their eyes and the corners of their mouths, they pick things from their teeth, fiddle with their hair, blow their noses, and scratch ... scratch ... scratch ... everywhere and everything. Then they want to shake hands. I remember once a fellow who kept wiping his running nose over and over with the same snotty tissue, who then extended his hand to me as we were leaving the meeting. I waved his hand away dismissively and replied "I wouldn't want to give you my cold." Oh, irony.

Anyhoo ... here's an article that purports to tell us where people like to be touched and where they don't, and where in the world you can find the touchiest people.

In the largest study ever quantifying where people were comfortable being touched and by whom, 1,300 men and women were asked the same question. The results suggest that when greeting most people, you’re better off with a handshake.

 Sigh. Continuing...

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlighted the importance of touch in communicating positive emotions. Humans are quite similar to monkeys and apes in that respect, with touch being crucial in establishing and maintaining social bonds.

So basically, the less evolved a human is, i.e. the closer to an ape, the more s/he will want to be touched. What a sensible conclusion. It makes we who disdain touching all the more alien though, doesn't it?


  1. Donald Trump, I am told, hates to be touched...and detests handshakes.

    I used to not mind shaking hands. 30 years ago, say. But these days if someone I don't know extends their hand, I pull back and claim my carpal tunnel is acting up. Just three words: flesh-eating viruses.

    1. A sensible policy. I'm glad I am not the only one.

      The world is full of contradictions. It's rude to touch people without permission, yet it is also rude to turn down a handshake (so you are pressured not to deny permission for fear of making a scene). The best way out is to stop offering to shake hands, but no one wants to do something so reasonable. Instead, the non-shakers are considered deviant for not wanting to get caught in the Catch-22.