Lefty Loosey

On a whim, I started Googling around for “left handedness.” I found that there are actually entire stores that sell everyday products redesigned for left-handed use. I even found that there is an international holiday for left-handedness, celebrated on August 13th since 1976.

I can’t say that I’ve ever found left-handedness to be so debilitating that it hindered my ability to complete any given task. I’ve always been able to adapt by either finding a way to use right-handed tools with my left hand or just using my right hand the best I can. What’s most interesting to me is that I don’t ever realize that I’m adapting – I just pick up a pair of scissors and use them. I certainly can’t justify spending $30 on a pair of left-handed scissors or $75 on a left-handed keyboard.

The Silver Surfer's true original story

The Silver Surfer’s true origin story

Approximately 15% of the world’s population is left-handed. To quote from one left-hander’s website:

Being left-handed… gives me a razor-thin view of what it’s like to be a minority. As a left-hander, I’m discriminated against all the time. Not for serious things: I am not denied housing, medical care, a job, a seat on the bus. But I experience anti-lefty bias in the form of school desks that are unusable, carrot peelers that are useless, power tools (such as skill saws) that are dangerous or even life-threatening, pens that smear and make my writing illegible, computer mice that cause hand cramps.

It’s absolutely astounding how many of our modern-day tools are designed for right-handed people. Most of them don’t expressly discourage use by left-handers, but they are ergonomically optimized for right-handers.

At least I can always fall back on the old aphorism: Only left-handed people are in their right minds.

2 thoughts on “Lefty Loosey

  1. Brad Galloway

    Hey, at the bookstore where I work we offer left handed note books. So where is this discrimination that you’re talking about?

  2. Kody

    It’s more than just notebooks! There are objects we use everyday that are optimized for right-handed use, but we never notice until we think about it: Manual can-openers, scissors (like I mentioned above), corkscrews, keyboards, desks in classrooms, most computer mice and trackballs, many musical instruments, sports equipment, watches, and most hand-held power tools.

    Let’s consider, for example, the circular skill saw. A lefty has two options when using this tool: a) use the saw with his/her right hand, which is just as awkward as a righty writing with a pencil with his/her left hand; or b) somehow use the saw backwards with his/her left hand. It is easy to see the danger in either of these cases.

    With a circular saw being an extreme example, I admit that using a keyboard or watch doesn’t put me at risk of sustaining serious injury. Nonetheless, as trivial as these limitations may seem, they remain obstacles that left-handed people must often overcome in order to maintain functional competency in modern society.

    This post was not meant as a rant. In fact, I feel that through my left-handedness I am better equipped to adapt to situations quickly and effectively because I have spent my entire life adapting to a right-handed world.

    This was also not intended to be a “poor me” tearjerker. I am simply making an observation of the world around me by placing it in perspective. There is so much out there that we know, but so little we understand. Understanding comes from questioning what we know (or think we know).

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