For the last few months, health officials all across the western world have desperately sought to mitigate the effects of an H1N1 or swine flu outbreak. Measures have included health reviews, public education, a plethora of supplies to hospitals and clinics, the ubiquitous shots and even some micro-level initiatives like the hand sanitizers you probably see and use all across campus. Great, but I don’t think any of these initiatives measure up to the fun and easy “germ-free pound.”
According to Wikipedia, the pound, or “fist bump,” probably originated in the 1960s among NBA basketball players. However, it was not until the 1990s that it became a western cultural phenomenon, greatly due to Michael Jordan’s influence.
Since then, the pound has been practised by notables like Barack Obama and myself. Odds are you have done it too. If you haven’t, you should be ashamed of yourself and you have some serious soul searching to do.
The pound is surely the easiest way to prevent the spread of H1N1. Why? Because humans like to interact. Even those who don’t like meeting people, but are forced into awkward social situations where they must meet people engage in the nefarious handshake. This seemingly harmless act poses an even greater threat to you than al-Qaeda poses to the United States. The hand to hand contact transmits deadly bacteria, viruses and sometimes even leaves your hand with the same stink as the person you just shook hands with. This social norm is nothing but a danger to your health and preys on all your non-Internet social networks.
Even those who don’t like meeting people, but are forced into awkward social situations where they must meet people, engage in the nefarious handshake.
The pound, on the other hand, minimizes contact, thus minimizing germ transfers. In addition, people who use the pound look cooler than you. Individuals who pound it exude confidence and seem like the kind of people you want to party with. Compare and contrast with the handshake which, although very professional, is trite, predictable and just plain boring. Who is going to remember you if you just did the same thing everyone else they met that day did? Nobody, that’s who.
Obviously the pound is not only good for your social life, but also for personal and public health. However, one important question remains: how can we create a society that habitually utilizes the pound? I think the following steps will ensure its cultural success:
- Read this article.
- Refore you approach somebody, say “pound it” so they know it’s coming.
- Respond to your friends’ high-fives with fists into their palms. That’ll teach ’em.
- Educate people on the “germyness” of traditional handshakes and show them the impressive alternative.
- If you are a public policy maker, tax handshakes just like we tax cigarettes.
Now that you are liberated, educated and empowered, get out their and “pound it” (feel free to misinterpret that).
photo: Jessica Laswell