Thursday, August 11, 2011

Nein Kiss!

A German etiquette group has called for an end to kissing in the workplace and has called the kiss greeting a form of 'terrorism.' It also claimed that the act of leaning into a person to kiss them on the cheek in a cordial manner to be a violation of the 'socially defined distance zone' or the SDDZ. In the past, I believe that the old name for this zone was something like the Berlin Wall.

While I heartily agree that kissing in the workplace is uncomfortable and inappropriate and that a ban should be put in place, I must protest the terrorism charge. It really seems to me that this is a trivialization of the word terrorism, as it deals with something that is clearly not a very serious issue.

In terms of the amber alert on terror, a kiss on the cheek doesn't even measure up to topaz level. It doesn't cause violence to my person, strike fear in my heart, incapacitate the highest levels of government or pose a threat to my democratic principles, unless you count the right to remain distant. This is really a pretty minor issue that has more to do with social and personal preference than a threat to the civilized world.

It's not even a particularly alarming moral issue. Kissing in the workplace is one thing, but a peck on the cheek, or pecking, is benign. I highly doubt that any person, even the most socially awkward of us, will ever run screaming from a peck on the cheek and lock themselves in a bomb shelter for 40 years while eating Spam. A terrorist attack might incite that kind of drastic action- a peck on the cheek should not.

It may be that the Germans take their etiquette, moral order and personal space a lot more seriously than the rest of the industrialized world. That's all fine and dandy. But they could definitely afford to use a little tact and common sense and come up with a better way to describe the inappropriateness of workplace kissing.

Inappropriate, for example, would be the right word to use to make their point. This would be an appropriate use of the word inappropriate. Perplexing may also apply, uncomfortable, awkward, socially inacceptable- all of these will do. But unless someone's bombed something- don't use terror.

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