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Are selfies the new handshake?

By JAMES COAKES Published 22nd Apr 2014
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It's about time that we replaced handshakes with something. The origins of the handshake can be traced back to Greek times, from a carving in the fifth century BC, and one story is that it's a way for men to show that they are not carrying a weapon. Another story is that it is a binding gesture during negotiation, with the deal not being struck until both parties let go.

However it came about, more recently stories have been emerging about the cornucopia of germs which exist on people's hands, waiting to be transferred at the next opportunity. Usually these reports contain some sort of unsavory statistic for the number of people who wash (or rather don't wash) their hands after using the lavatory. It's time we found an alternative.

It does seem that the much maligned 'selfie' is showing some potential. The selfie started off as something that the 'look at me' generation did in interesting places, or pretty much anywhere in fact. Then it evolved into a way of showing who you were hanging out with. Ellen DeGeneres' infamous Oscars selfie allegedly 'broke Twitter' as it was retweeted 1.7 million times within an hour. This was followed by tribe selfies from various celebrities desperate to get into the act, all showing how uncool it is to copy a successful meme (marketing lesson there).

President Obama has been known to do the occasional selfie and there was a trend for people to do selfies with him when they met. The White House has recently clamped down on this, either because they feel it demeans the office of President or because they're worried that a photograph steals a man's soul.

Now, there's much to scoff at in this idea. Selfies are a trend that has attracted a lot of criticism, but they have become a very popular thing to do. If we accept that we really do need to replace the handshake then perhaps the selfie is the ideal alternative. On the plus side you would have an account of every business meeting that you had ever had, which may be a good thing or a bad thing depending on whether you're a marketing consultant or an international arms dealer. The other consideration is that it may alert your competitors to what you're doing. It's not perfect and needs some thought, but times are changing and I think they're running out for the handshake.

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228 weeks ago, by Jackie
Some business people I meet have taken to kissing one or both cheeks and/or hugging me hello. One theatrical individual even kisses my hand, trying to be gallant.

I believe old-fashioned etiquette meant the lady extended her hand first and suggest today's business-people follow that tradition.

I much prefer a web-to-web handshake – the web is the bit between your thumb and first finger. If the other person's hand doesn't connect there, it feels like shaking a soggy fish. Try it!
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