Typically, you might worry about what would happen if Michael Arrington's hands were on you. But the TechCrunch founder and pugnacious VC is equally terrified of physical contact, creating a public germaphobe campaign that's now reached half a decade.
"Hand Shaking Is So Medieval," Arrington blogged back in 2009. "Let's End It." What followed was a quasi-scientific rant against the custom, which dates back to at least the 5th century BC:
I'm not just talking about the sweaty palms handshake, which sends shudders down my back. I even take issue with the firm and dry handshakes that we engage in every day. I'd like to see the ritual ended.
Then, right on cue for April Fools' Day, Arrington renewed his handshake offensive, practically begging: "NOW CAN WE END THE BARBARIC, REPULSIVE, GERM SPREADING HANDSHAKE?" I would say "eating the uncooked human flesh of your foes" is repulsive and barbaric, not shaking someone's hand, but Arrington has never been one to respect norms:
I forgot to bring hand sanitizer to Demo Day.
I sincerely hope that Y Combinator bans handshaking at future Demo Days. I also call on TechCrunch and other conference organizers to institute no-handshake policies at events, starting with TechCrunch Disrupt in NY next month.
We know people don't stay home when they're sick, and we know that most people rarely wash their hands, even after using the bathroom. The only solution I see to this is for events, where the germs really run wild, to strongly suggest to attendees that they keep their damned hands to themselves.
Arrington is correct: shaking someone's hand can spread germs between the two of you. If you don't wash your hands, or cough directly into your fingers while you're sick, this can put others at risk. Or, if you decline to shake hands with someone when you're feeling under the weather, and follow proper personal hygiene dictates most humans are taught as children, you'll probably be fine. You'll also avoid coming across as a nutcase who wants to "ban handshakes" and writes thousands upon thousands of words on the topic.