The tendency to refer to a clumsy person as “all thumbs” has become an irony of our time. It’s as shoe (glove?) that seems to be on the other foot (hand?) as the face of technology continues to shift. Now, mobile communication actually requires an agile and able pair of those very digits once suggestive of physical awkwardness.
It’s no longer enough to have adequate typing skills, with right and left hands tapping alongside one another, giving barely more thought to where each finger falls than we give our mother tongue when speaking.
It is now proficiency in “thumb typing” that is required for the palm-of-hand communication process involved in texting on a cell phone, or emailing on a smart phone. Whether it’s single-thumb typing, or double opposable, it’s nearly impossible without a moderately dexterous pair.
After years of enjoying successful synaptic connections between my 10 typing fingers and my brain, I am dismayed to discover the relationship between my thumbs and my thinker is terribly lacking.
I am determined to persevere until, similar to my 14-year-old and his cohorts, thumb-typing becomes second nature. At present though, each text I compose is slow. Laborious. With… long… pauses… between… each… and… every… character.
As I stare at the keypad with alternating wide and narrowed eyes, my crooked thumb hovers, cramping, waiting to reconcile with my brain which key to hit next.
A friend, who, as a parent of kids older than mine, has been a texting aficionado for awhile, once apologized for using abbreviations in an email, figuring (correctly) that I would find them irritating.
However, since my method of texting requires the intense and lengthy consideration of each and every letter before applying the right amount of pressure, the right amount of times, I now see the appeal and have come to embrace the practice.
I am no longer ashamed to use, abuse, and even cre8 abbreviations when texting.
And texting, in general, is easier than calling my son. I can thumb type “dnr, hm now, pls” rather than calling and asking where he is and what he’s doing - that inquisition can wait until he arrives home. Texting also leaves him little opportunity to ask what’s for dinner, didn’t we just have that, and can’t we have something good for a change? In both cases, words best spoken face to face.
Sometimes I wonder if kids these days will learn to type properly, especially since some of them might begin their wired-in experience with thumb typing.
I have vivid memories of Grade 9 typing class with a teacher who was an awkward, timid man otherwise, but when setting his class to work on unmarked typewriter keys, excitedly sprang to life. He gleefully sang each letter and number for the class to type, and became especially melodic (and somewhat contorted) when we were to tap the “space” bar.
There is no question how distressed he would be about the emergence of thumb typing. Although I once worried about my kids developing poor typing habits, now that I’ve given it more thought - and publicly admitted to using abbreviations in texts - I’m not sure what other “bad” typing habits exist. I suspect my Grade 9 typing teacher would bg 2 dfr.
I was recently able to “flext my messaging muscles” when a friend’s husband sent me a text, pleading, “Please teach my wife how to text!” He knew she and I were together, and was not surprised when she did not reply to his message.
What a great feeling of pride I felt coursing through my…thumbs!
...and here for some history about my technical inabilities in Techno Gender-ational Gap