Spock's Vulcan salute should replace handshakes in coronavirus era

Commentary: Live long and prosper, and stay healthy.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

In this era fraught with coronavirus worries and new advice coming seemingly every day, I'd like to propose a new replacement for the germ-filled handshake. Let's revive Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute from Star Trek, a simple and sanitary gesture that's just as useful as a handshake greeting, and 10 times more charming.

Even if you're not a huge Star Trek fan, you likely know the gesture. Actor Leonard Nimoy, who died in 2015, invented it himself. The actor would raise his hand with the palm facing forward, thumb extended, and his middle and ring finger parted.  It's often accompanied with the spoken words "live long and prosper," sometimes paired with the words, "peace and long life."

Nimoy told the L.A. Times that he based it on the Jewish Priestly Blessing that impressed him as a child. It became so well-known that President Barack Obama and 1960s icon Timothy Leary, among others, greeted Nimoy with the famous gesture, he said.

Now, with churches advising congregants not to shake hands for the sign of peace, the Queen of England wearing gloves for an investiture ceremony, and Washington governor Jay Inslee announcing he's not shaking any more hands, it's time for the Vulcan salute to become our new greeting.

Even Star Trek's own Mr. Sulu, actor George Takei, is promoting the salute.

There may be one issue: It's not easy for everyone to spread their fingers out accordingly. But if you need a little practice, know you're in good company. 

In a classic Star Trek moment from the original series, Dr. McCoy asks Mr. Spock to show him how to do the salute, and has to forcibly mash his fingers into position, snarking, "That hurts worse than the (fancy dress) uniform."

And in a touching two-part episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard helps a near-death Sarek, Spock's father, make the gesture.

Live long and prosper, everyone. Handshakes were outdated and dorky, anyway.

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