Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve been told to avoid handshakes to reduce the risk of infection. So what’s the next appropriate social greeting to adopt?
Maybe we can take a cue from Star Trek and do the Vulcan salute. According to CNN, a physician attending a closed-door meeting of the House Democratic caucus on Tuesday (Mar 10) advised legislators to consider the Vulcan greeting — made famous by Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy — as an alternative to shaking hands.
The doctor called the split-finger gesture “the live long and prosper” sign, referring to the signature line that accompanies the greeting. If you don’t speak Star Trek, Chen Xiuhuan’s extraterrestrial visitor used the same sign in the 1988 Channel 8 drama Star Maiden.
Just a few days before the CNN report, tech website CNET recommended the same option in a commentary entitled ‘Spock's Vulcan salute should replace handshakes in coronavirus era’.
The Vulcan greeting was actually inspired by a blessing from the Jewish faith. The hand gesture is also in the shape of the Hebrew letter “shin”, Nimoy explained in an interview with the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project in 2014.
The letter “shin” stands for the word Shaddai, one of the names of God. “People don't realise they're blessing each other with this. It's great,” Nimoy added.
George Takei, who played Sulu, on the original Star Trek series, is cool with the idea.
But his former colleague, William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk, has as a different suggestion. “I don’t usually handshake,” he tweeted. “Sometimes fist bump”.Rrrrright.
I don’t usually handshake, sometimes fist 🤜🏻 🤛🏻 bump https://t.co/zHYMH5iPrz— William Shatner (@WilliamShatner) March 8, 2020
Star Maiden is available to stream on meWATCH. The original Star Trek series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Voyager, Star Trek: Enterprise and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine are on Netflix.