Pounding out an understanding of the fist bump

By Savannah Hall

The fist pound or first bump is a gesture of greeting that was popular a few years ago, but has re-emerged, and with good reason. The Mayor of Memphis, Myron Lowery, got a lot of media attention for fist bumping the Dalai Lama. His Holiness was there to accept an award from the National Civil Rights Museum of Memphis and was greeted with a “Hello Dalai” followed by him and the mayor “pounding it.” Some say the salutation was inappropriate, when in actuality what the mayor did was kickstart a motion that will benefit all humanity.

He cites the swine flu as one of the main reasons he thought the fist pound was a better option than the standard hand shake. H1N1 is spread through bodily fluid and the palms of your hands are home to all sorts goodies. If we eliminate hand-shaking the exchange of fluids can be cut down drastically. This is just one reason, albeit a main one, that the fist pound should make a comeback.

What is lurking on another’s hand is unknown. Aside from the many diseases and bacteria that can unknowingly make it to your hand then to your mouth or eyes and into your body, there is also bodily contact. The handshake requires you to interlock limbs with someone else. Their or your hands could be cold or clammy or rough or hot or sweaty or a combination. Nothing is worse than trying to discretely wipe someone else’s sweat off your hands onto your pants while looking them in the eye and trying not to cringe.

One other reason is the formality of the handshake. It’s a given upon meeting to shake hands but after that it gets rather confusing figuring out for who and when one should outstretch their arm. The fist pound can be used with anyone all the time, no second guessing.

The first pound is quick and painless. It can be done in passing, quickly tap knuckles and be on your way. The handshake requires those involved to stop, turn to each other, reach out their hands and shake. It also runs the risk of varied degrees of pressure and force. Shaking hands with someone who crushes your hand, gives you limp hand or moves your hand/arm in such a fast and furious motion that your whole body shakes is not exactly desirable.

With the fist pound you can still hold stuff in your hand. Running around campus holding books in one hand and a cell in the other is no worry when giving the fist pound before going into class. The handshake requires you to try and juggle your books and cell around so you have a free hand. This can end in your precious items falling and you looking like a klutz.

Barack and Michelle Obama have been known to engage in a fist pound. If the Obamas endorse it, then, yes, we can.

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