Wednesday, November 11, 2009

History lesson: The Hi-Five

No, this is not a SuperCraig post. I hear a few of you disappointed, but most of you are happy! Today is a history lesson, read on to find out more:

We have all done it at some point of time. Most of us still do it. I am talking about the hi-five or more commonly known as the high five. We do it when we agree with someone, crack a good joke, (or a bad one) at work, at home, while playing sports; the hi-five has made its way deviously into our everyday lives.

Has anyone ever wondered how this global phenomenon started in the first place? Here’s what happened…I think. We take a look back (way back) to the time the first organism was formed. You must be thinking that there were no humans at the time. Well, you are right. But evidence found suggests that unicellular organisms like amoeba, even before figuring out they could split to multiply, hi-fived each other. Of course, it was not called a hi-five at that time. In fact, it had no name! We are talking about unicellular organisms, remember? But anyway, in today’s time, we don’t refer to it as a hi-five, but just a ‘high’.

The hi-five, then disappeared from the face of the earth, but only for a few hundred million years. We fast forward to the prehistoric times where early man were just forming societies, making new friends and asking out the opposite sex to a cup of coffee since splitting a person into two didn’t seem to work now! Getting back to the topic, the hi-five at that time wasn’t the hi-five we all know and love now. Back then, the hi-five was used to check whose hands and fingers were longer. However, since there was no soap back then, germs spread quickly through the constant hand contact, causing catastrophic diseases like gooey substances from the nose, rashes and dirty hands. The hi-five went on yet another break. Prehistoric men then started trying to see which one if their hands were bigger and started hi-fiving themselves. This is when the clap (or the self-five) was introduced into the human society. But that’s another story for another day.

So getting back to the topic…again, as man evolved he started inventing stuff. However, the first hi-five that paved the way for hi-fives to be used as it is today was after the invention of the wheel. Yes-sir-ee! The hi-five that we all know and love today has a round piece of stone with a hole in the middle to thank.

Since then the popularity of the hi-five has grown many fold (Figure 1). However, groups of people started playing around with the hi-five for no apparent reason. Why would you mess with something so perfect? Today, we see many variations of the hi-five like: the double handed hi-five (hi-ten), the low-five, the double handed low-five (low-ten), behind the back, across the chest, etc. the list goes on. But even with these adaptations, the hi-five remains the most used.

Figure 1: Popularity of the Hi-Five

The hi-fives have been doing a lot of advertising as well. In recent times popular TV show How I Met Your Mother makes a lot of references to the hi-five. Borat too, in his movie ‘Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan’ make a lot of use of the hi-five, sometimes even forcefully asking for one.

With the way the hi-five is gaining popularity, who knows, it may one day become today’s handshake.

For those of you who don’t know how to hi-five here are a few simple steps to follow:

  1. Locate a potential hi-fiver.
  2. Approach with a good joke or a simple ‘Hey! What’s up?’
  3. Lift arm in a way that your palm faces target hi-fiver.
  4. Wait for target hi-fiver to do the same.
  5. Swing arm forward in such a way, that your palm lines up with the targets.
  6. Make sure you make firm contact with the targets palm, or you will look pretty silly and everyone will know its your first time.

Tips for a good hi-five:

  1. Keep constant eye contact.
  2. Do not put too much force in the swing. We don’t want to hurt people.
  3. Do it with good intent, not just to look cool.

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