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Like Warm Hugs? Love Without the Contact

By Sara Butler

Love Without Contact

I really identify with the snowman Olaf from Disney’s Frozen. He loves summer even though he wasn’t built for it -- and as someone fair-skinned and freckled, I do too. He’s a bit dramatic, and I may have a flair for drama myself. But most importantly, he loves warm hugs and all I can think in response is “Olaf, same.”

The only problem with warm hugs this year begins with a C and ends with -OVID. No warm hugs for me, no warm hugs for anyone. They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and what is a pandemic for if not to get inspired? We may love to let our inner Olaf shine, but there are more ways to say hi and express care than simply giving a warm hug. Here are a few ideas of how to give a greeting, warm or otherwise, in the age of physical distancing.

A Brief History of Contactless Greetings

We may love a strong handshake or warm hug now (or, we used to), but the truth is that contactless greetings have been around for quite some time in many cultures. There’s no need to create something new, we should just be more open to embracing other cultural greetings and perhaps popularizing a few of our own.

Tibetans, for example, have traditionally stuck their tongues out to one another in greeting. Japanese people bow with their hands down by their sides. Those from India do a slight bow with their hands pressed together in front of them and usually throw in a “namaste” for good measure. Try putting one or more of these in your repertoire. I’ve got that Tibetan tongue thing on my list.

Embrace a Little Baseball

I’ll admit, I don’t know much about baseball, much to the chagrin of a few people in my life. I have no clue what an RBI is, and I don’t know what a designated hitter is either. But I do know that baseball players replaced the germ-spreading handshake long ago with the forearm bash, chest bump, and fist bump. You may want to take it easy on Grandma and forgo the running chest bump the next time you see her, but a nice, gentle forearm bash could go a long way. To go completely contactless, pull back just short of contact.

Keep It Classic

There isn’t much creative about the classic smile and wave, but it’s important to remember that a true smile is one of the most unique things you can offer someone! Studies have shown that flashing those pearly whites (if you’re not wearing a mask, that is) releases endorphins in your brain that boost your mood and create a more positive impact on those around you. Smiling is contagious, after all. Throw in a nice wave for good measure and you’ve got a classic greeting that will make someone feel important, recognized, and possibly a little happier, too.

Try Out Finger Guns

Do you identify as a little socially awkward? Most people do. If you find yourself a little uncomfortable with new greetings, then the finger gun is a one-stop-greeting-shop as a way to both acknowledge another person and be ironically uncomfortable all at once. Embrace it.

The Foot Shake

If you’ve been waiting to bring back the iconic scene from the Kid ‘n Play classic film House Party, then now is your moment because the foot shake is making a comeback.

Bumping feet has now replaced the handshake in many parts of the world. From China to Tanzania, if you feel agile enough to give this lower limb contact greeting a go, then the world is your footshake oyster.

Live Long and Prosper

Everyone’s favorite Vulcan, Dr. Spock, was ahead of his time. Perhaps the Vulcan people had been through a few plagues of their own and so they adopted the “Live Long and Prosper” forked-finger salute. Whatever its origins, if you’ve mastered this salute (or have the time to try), then it can make a great way to say high or wish someone farewell. Plus, it’s totally social distancing friendly and dexterously impressive.

The Classic Peace Sign

The peace sign is still a very relevant symbol for peace, good fortune, and hope. It’s a great way to send out groovy vibes as you keep your distance from those around you. It’s a great way to show your personality too, outside of Snapchat filters.

Everyone has had to make some adjustments this year, but you don’t have to let these physical distancing guidelines crush your enthusiasm and personality when greeting others, including chiropractors at The Joint. There’s more to life than the elbow tap. Get creative and find new ways to express to others just how happy you are to see them -- from six feet away, of course.

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