I have one foot firmly planted in the past and the other in the 21st Century — or maybe it’s on a banana peel, because despite my love of the “old ways,” I try to keep up with the latest technological trends, which change at a dizzying pace. Even though I don’t play video games or watch TV, I entertain myself with various iToys, from my iPad to my iPod and my iPhone.
There’s always the temptation to let technology take over your life, but it comes with occupational hazards. We all know that texting while you’re driving can be fatal, and texting while you’re crossing the street can lead to serious injuries or fender-benders when cars swerve to avoid you. Taking selfies on the edge of a cliff can have disastrous results, and if you play your iTunes music too loud, you’ll develop tinnitus.
The effect on our hands can also be debilitating. I’ve been texting so much that I developed tendonitis in my thumb. (Any word ending in “itis” means trouble. I learned that from my sister who’s a doctor — or maybe I read it on WebMD when I was considering a second career as a neurosurgeon.) Too much repetitive thumb activity, especially “thumb typing,” causes problems.
It’s begun to affect my life. For starters, I can’t open pickle jars anymore. Do you realize how troubling it is when you’re craving a Vlasic dill gherkin and can’t get the jar open – and I’m not even pregnant. I guess it’s a small price to pay for the privilege of texting, especially now that the CIA can monitor my activities at the town dump, the dental hygienist and Walmart.
This thumb is also affecting my marriage. How embarrassing is it to ask your wife to open a container for you?
“Honey, I’d like to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Would you please open this jar?”
“Why can’t YOU open it?”
“My thumbs don’t work the way they used to.”
“Be a man. What would President Trump say?”
I guess I’ll have to send a note to the White House: “President Trump, can you have a Secret Service agent open this peanut butter for me?”
The end result is I don’t eat pickles or peanut butter anymore.
When this ailment first appeared in the workplace, they called it “BlackBerry thumb,” because BlackBerry mobile devices were absolute necessities in corporate America. If you aspired to be an executive, you had to own one and pull it out at parties and your son’s baptism or bar mitzvah so you could be seen emailing important people, even though much of the time, executives-in-training were actually emailing their lovers.
Previously, the condition was known as Nintendonitis, aka Nintendo thumb, which kids developed from constantly playing video games. Closely related are “trigger thumb” and Quervain’s tenosynovitis, whatever that is, and thumb sucking. I suspect we should come up with a new name for this condition, something like “I Can’t Open the Pickle Jar Thumb.”
Treatment for this ailment varies. For most guys, physical therapy involves twisting off caps on Sam Adams bottles to loosen the tendons. For others, there’s the cortisone shot, a thumb brace or … surgery.
The condition can be painful and sometimes in the middle of the night, I wake up and my thumb is throbbing. I wish it would decide to throb in the middle of day so I could get a good night’s sleep. Even though it’s a thumb, it seems to have a mind of its own.
A lot of my text-messaging is work-related, so the obvious solution is to either quit my job or hire an intern to send emails for me. I’ve been trying to cut down on the number of messages I send, but we all know you can’t live in this world without texting if you want to keep your job and/or your girlfriend or if you want to get your teenagers to communicate with you. Young people, you realize, prefer sending text-messages to talking.
With all so much new technology, our thumbs will probably evolve into index fingers by the 22nd Century to help us type more easily on cell phones. This raises an important physiological question. Do we really need thumbs? Evolutionary biologists say the thumb separates us from the jellyfish on the evolutionary chain, so be glad that you have thumbs. Otherwise you might have been born an invertebrate like, say, a clam or lobster, and then you’d never be able to open a pickle jar.
Contact Joe Pisani at firstname.lastname@example.org.