Digital inspiration

“Blackberry thumb,” aka “Gameboy thumb,” aka Nintendinitis, aka mouse thumb, skiers’ thumb, gamekeepers’ thumb, washerwomen’s thumb, has been around for a while — at least a century, according to the annals of modern medicine. Washerwomen got it from wringing out clothes day in, day out. Gamekeepers loosened their “ulnar ligaments” over time. They finished off each game animal by grasping the beast’s head between thumb and index finger to break its neck. Skiers injured their ulnar collateral ligaments by falling with their hands caught in the ski poles.

According to one British researcher, Japanese teenagers’ primary digits have evolved to the point where the teens use their thumbs, rather than index fingers, to point and ring doorbells. 

I’ve also read that thumbprint identity technology is constantly under attack by hackers.

Injury, overuse, hackers, sewing needles, sucking babies — they’re all out to get our most valuable digit. And forget about hitchhiking, possibly the thumb’s most transcendent activity. If hitching hasn’t already died in this country, its pulse grows fainter by the minute.

I say it’s time to attend to thumbs, to honor the short, double-phalanged digits. It’s time to let thumbs tell their stories. 

If thumbs were superheroes, who would their arch enemies be? What about a thumb superhero’s sidekick? Who might that be? 


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