Thumbs — April 13, 2019

Thumbs by Judith Campbell

It’s all about the thumbs. In the past thumbs were the thing that separated us from the lower animals. We and monkeys were prehensile. We could grasp things. That gave us lots of advantages. It’s so much classier to grasp a fork instead of bending over a, like a dog, to lap up our food. That good old thumb gave us lots of advantages, too numerous to bore you with. I’m sure you get it.

Enter the 21st century. The thumb has assumed immeasurable importance, far surpassing just grasping. Now those little appendages enable us to text, (at least some of us.) My thumbs have not caught up; their major function is that prehensile thing. They are text-inept. Maybe they are too fat, or maybe my nails are too long. Whatever the reason, my thumb texting yields unintelligible messages and a lot of frustration. I have to use a stylus when it would be so cool to thumb away in high-speed cadence on my smart phone like everyone else. I sit in awe watching the dexterity with which my children and grandchildren create readable messages. The English teacher in me has an issue with the abbreviated text of these messages and I fear for the future of the language. But maybe it’s just sour grapes. I can’t do it. My messages are very brief, unlike my writing and speaking style. I suspect people are insulted by the terseness of many of my messages. I even have trouble with the stylus. It could be that I have some kind of nervous condition that has never cropped up before. Or, maybe I am just an anachronism. I don’t belong in this century.

I don’t like this anachronism theory. Some of my friends have text-operable thumbs, love the computer, and even understand their phones. I’m beginning to feel slightly retarded. My new smart phone is waaaay smarter than I . It took me weeks to figure out how to answer a call. I didn’t know you had to slide your finger over the screen. I was used to just yelling into my old phone. Somehow I just don’t think like computers and smart phones. My old brain was not trained that way. Again, I can’t really blame the age thing. My older brother is a “techie”. He gets it, and spends half his life playing on his computer. And we came from the same gene pool. I probably need some kind of brain readjustment to help me. I forget lots of stuff these days, but I rationalize that there’s too much in my brain after all these years and it’s gotten crowded. Sometimes those synapses miss each other. I need to be de-fragged, like my computer.

Back to the thumbs… I can start simply and cut my nails. That’s easier than a lobotomy. Maybe the computer thing will come, if I live long enough.

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