A Good, Firm Handshake With Direct Eye Contact
By David Metcalfe
April 13, 2019
Some Extremely Important Rules To Follow
Shaking Hands: Whenever you meet someone, you need to look straight at them, smile, and reach out your hand. When they grab it, squeeze it tight to show how strong and confident you are, and shake it up and down twice.
Wedding Parties: There has to be an equal number of groomsmen and bridesmaids, and they have to each wear matching suits and dresses, respectively. By choosing only a specified number of friends, you are able to proclaim which of your friends are better than the others.
Eating Utensils: You can only eat certain foods with your hands, like pizza, burgers, or chicken. But for steak, spaghetti, or pancakes, you have to use utensils (fork, knife, spoon in the right combination).
Necessary Punishments For Disobeying
Shaking Hands: If you don’t shake hands properly, you will make a bad first impression. This could cause you to miss out on job opportunities, business deals, or potential friendships. Without a good, solid handshake, people will think less of you as a person.
Wedding Parties: If you are a groomsman who has the audacity to wear a different coloured tie than the rest of the groomsmen, it is the groom and bride’s right to kick you out of the wedding party. In fact, such a severe violation of the social code could warrant the dissolution of an entire friendship.
Eating Utensils: If you eat spaghetti or pancakes with your hands rather than with the proper combination of utensils, you will be a weird, even disgusting, person. You will never get a second date if you ate the wrong way on the first one. People at dinner parties will stop and stare in disgust. Complete strangers may even come up to you and say, “no, you eat it like this!”, and proceed to teach you the real way.
People Are Absolute Freaking Idiots
The idea that grabbing someone’s hand a certain way or wearing a certain type of suit or eating with a specific set of utensils would have any social utility is absolutely absurd. But tons of people really think like this!
Before going to a job interview, many people’s advice will include, “give them a good, firm handshake”. I would have to ask, then, “if giving them a good, firm handshake improves your chances of getting hired, do we then expect a lack of a good, firm handshake to decrease your chances of getting hired?”. You would think that the job would go to the most qualified candidate based on their ability to do the actual work of the job.
People worship weddings because they are very, very stupid. Starving children in the world? Nah, a $20,000 wedding is more important. You’ll often hear people say, “you can’t do it for any less than that.” And I would have to ask what “it” they are talking about. The actual task of “getting married” can be done for free; it’s called eloping. Anything you spend beyond that is not to get married; it’s to put on a show. And that show is rigid.
A bride doesn’t actually need to wear a white dress in order to get married. There don’t have to be groomsmen and bridesmaids present. There doesn’t have to be a catered dinner. None of the shit that happens at weddings is actually necessary for the marriage to occur. You would think, since these things are accessory to the marriage rather than vital, that they would have a great degree of flexibility; but not to some people. Some people, as my friend once did to me, will literally kick you out of the wedding party if you don’t wear a certain suit.
People draw very strange and arbitrary lines as to what food can be eaten with hands and what needs to be eaten with utensils. Why can pizza be picked up with your hands while steak has to remain on the plate until your fork can bring it up to you? People will say things like, “if it has a bone in it or bread around it, you can pick it up with your hands.” Umm…what? Can we get some logic to this, please? Oh wait, no we can’t, because people are very stupid, and so confident in their stupidity that they will literally go around “correcting” people who don’t follow their arbitrary and completely subjective guidelines.
How Do People Stop Being Such Freaking Idiots?
When you live in a tiny bubble and have no understanding or appreciation of history, anthropology, sociology, or philosophy, you will tend to act and think in stupid ways. Even knowing a little about historic cultures will tell you that shaking hands is a rather new and incredibly arbitrary custom that most humans have never partaken in. So too are any of the wedding or eating customs. Being rigid about something arbitrary and socially constructed is very ignorant. Can you imagine if I went up to you and got mad at you for walking, because I randomly decided that people should jump like rabbits everywhere they go? The examples I mentioned are no different, other than the fact that 21st century Americans happen to be more familiar with them.
Simply, people need to get out more. Not just physically, but mentally. They need to reach a level of thought that transcends simplistic traditions and understands the meanings actually being expressed. If my friend denies me to be at his wedding because I don’t have a certain suit, it’s because his tiny mind can’t see the fact that the whole concept of groomsmen is to support and witness the marriage, and hold the groom accountable to his vows. If I displayed an inability to do the actual purpose of a groomsmen, then yes, he should kick me out. But failure to fulfill an accessory, purely arbitrary socially constructed one? Bullshit.
If people read, travelled, discussed, and took time to think about things, they would not be such idiots. There are people who do that, and I am so happy when I find them. All of my close friends have an ability to think and therefore transcend rigid social simplicity. They wouldn’t remain close friends if they couldn’t do that.
There are real meanings in our social interactions. People experience wonderful and profound things with one another: the birth of a child, a graduation, a marriage, a new career, moving into a new home, etc. We rightly want to celebrate those things and share the joy with the larger social community in which we are situated through familial, proximal, and relational bonds. The social constructs we create serve as a shared facilitation of these social experiences. But what happens when those social constructs become so rigid that they end up detracting from the actual substance of the experience itself?
Well, you get people losing job opportunities because of their weak handshake, people being kicked out of wedding parties because of a slightly different suit, and people getting chastised by strangers for eating spaghetti with their hands.
The way to avoid these lapses in proper social facilitation are simple: we need to be educated and thoughtful enough to recognize what is innate and what is accessory. A handshake is just one way that our culture has decided one can acknowledge the presence of, and initiate conversation with, another person. A wedding is just a way to bring your family and friends together to celebrate your commitment to long term, sexual companionship. Eating is just a way to get food into your body so you can be alive and healthy. As long as these are being fulfilled, everything else is very flexible.
Flexibility is necessary for the betterment of social capital. If we demand conformity and obedience to tons of made-up rules, we limit freedom for the individual in both thought and practice. People come to America from all walks of life, and overly specific and rigid social customs being forcefully applied to other people is terribly destructive to one another. People should be able to take part in social communities in ways that they feel comfortable. Someone may feel that eating spaghetti with their hands is easier and makes more sense- awesome! Someone may wish to wear a different colour of suit than the one they were told to- awesome! Someone may shake hands with a weak grip, or not shake hands at all- awesome!
Don’t be stupid; be awesome. Celebrate and take part in the customs of your social community, but take part personally in the way you feel is best and socially in a way that allows and respects the freedom of others to act as they feel is best.