It’s pretty hard to see a silver lining in this coronavirus mess right now, but if there is one, maybe it is this: as a society, we’ll finally ditch the firm handshake or kissing the cheek or hugging as a form of greeting and go with something that doesn’t involve physical contact and potential germ transmission.
Like, say, the Vulcan “live long and prosper” greeting.
I’ve seen people openly advocating for the general adoption of the Vulcan greeting during this coronavirus period, and I think it’s a good notion. Of course, if we were to follow Vulcan activities, we would want to go with the split finger salutation, and not the Vulcan mind meld — which involves precise touching of the meldee’s face, which as we know is verboten in the world of the COVID-19. That’s one reason — one reason among many, I might add — why we would want to go with the Vulcan gesture and not the Mork from Ork greeting, which involves twisting your ears and therefore would be forbidden, too.
Over the years, people have tried to introduce different kinds of greetings to replace the handshake and the cheek kiss and the hug, without much success. The fist bump never really caught on, and neither did the elbow touch. But the Vulcan greeting seems like it would have a better chance of general adoption. It shows the open hand, so people will know you’re not hiding a weapon — which apparently is one explanation for why handshakes started in the first place — and it’s got a certain retro element to it, while at the same time a kind of ironic coolness, too.
And, although the Star Trek writers always came up with scripts that tried to make humans feel superior to those logical Vulcans who never really came to grip with their emotions — and therefore missed out on “those things that make us human” — any true Star Trek fan saw a lot to admire in the Vulcan approach and culture. For example, we can be pretty sure that, if those ultra-logical Vulcans were confronted with the coronavirus situation, they would not be out engaging in panic purchases of enormous quantities of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. And they wouldn’t be wringing their hands about it, either.
The only problem with the Vulcan greeting is that some people, like poor Dr. McCoy, can’t make the split-finger sign. I don’t think that should discourage us from going full Vulcan.
Live long and prosper, folks!