My sister has two deformed thumbs. They were perfectly normal thumbs when she was a baby. As a matter of fact, they were perfectly normal until she managed to save up enough birthday, Christmas, and allowance money to purchase an Atari 2600 in 1980. That’s when her love affair with video games became an obsession and the knuckles of her thumbs locked into video controller position. Yes, she is a victim of the dread disease of the 1980’s – Atari Thumb.
She played PacMan, Space Invaders, Circus (the one where the clown bounced up and down on a trampoline breaking balloons that floated across the top of the screen), and Asteroids for hours on end. My parents had to drag her whining and complaining body to the dining room table for dinner. They resorted to pulling the TV plug out of the electric socket when it was time for her to go to bed. She was hooked on the new technology and she has the thumbs to prove it.
You might think that technology has come far beyond the days of thumb-controlled Atari joysticks, and in some ways you’d be right. We have iPhones in our pockets, laptop computers that fit into back packs, and small tablets that have all the computing power we might ever need. (Don’t let the term fool you – there is no paper in a tablet anymore.)
So has Atari Thumb gone the way of the floppy drive, the huge old computers that captured data on magnetic tapes, and, well, the Atari 2600? Hardly. Today’s youth suffer from the next generation of Atari Thumb. Texting thumb affects nearly half of our young people. As a matter of fact, 1 in 20 young people in England will tell you that the pain in their thumbs becomes so severe late in the day that they have to…stop texting! Now that seems like a drastic solution to me. lol
A thousand years from now, archeologists digging up our ancient bones are going to wonder why so many of us had mutant thumbs. Will they be able to figure out that we switched from talking with our voices to talking with our thumbs? I wish them luck.