Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Being Unhanded

I read this article on how a lot of computer technology is designed for right-handed people, and was kind of puzzled; after thinking about it I was curious instead.

I'm left-handed, sort-of. I'm actually not very handed; like my father, I can use either hand almost equally well, and while I lightly prefer my left for most purposes, there are some things I learned with my right hand that I can't do with my left (and vice-versa, of course). I can write with either hand, and at various points in the past preferred to write with both hands at the same time, each hand working on different words (which is a great way to avoid getting bored while writing; often nowadays when typing I'll queue up some words to type and look around the room while letting my fingers do the actual typing bits. The same goes with writing normally, but moreso.

I don't really understand handedness. I understand that a lot of people draw or write very differently with one of their hands, but I don't really understand why, and it's hard for me to understand this author's discomfort with using the mouse with a different hand; for me the only difference is how quickly I forget that my hand is controlling the cursor and come to the perspective that my mind is directly controlling the cursor; it takes maybe a minute with the left hand, and maybe two or three with the right. There's probably a body of subjective experience that I don't think I've ever experienced relating to handedness; I've tried to imagine it as someone trying to manipulate things with their feet rather than hands, but I have no idea how accurate that is. It presumably involves differences in fine motor control, given the horrible attempts by some to write with their off hand (and websites like "left handed comics"), but that's also maybe often able to be overcome?

Is there discomfort too in using one's off hand?

When I type, I tend to favour my left hand heavily; my "rest" position is to have my left fingers on QWER, my left thumb on space, my right pointer on L, right middle on the brackets, right pinky on Return or RightShift. My palms and thumbs rarely leave the surface of the laptop/keyboard, and my left hand tends to move over most of the keyboard using the first three fingers to hit most of the keys.

I guess it's also not just hands; when I snowboard, I use duck stance because it feels most natural to me (and I switch orientation a lot).

I wish I had a good way to understand handedness; it's one of those basic body things where, unlike cultural/ethnic differences, we can't theorise ourselves much of a ways towards understanding (at least, not without some help).

If anyone would care to share their experiences with handedness; the sensations of using off-hands for various tasks, that'd be great. Also, if your on-hand has ever been injured and you had to spend some time using your off, did you adapt well?


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