Stop Your Mouse from Twisting Your Arm
You’ve heard the story of the frog in boiling water, right? This is the common fable of how a frog dropped into boiling water will immediately leap out again, but a frog placed in water that warms gradually to a boil will stay complacent until it is too late.
I don’t know how frogs actually respond to such stimuli, but I do know that humans ignore some deadly threats because they don’t seem immediately threatening. We see this reflected in public policy about distracted driving, smoking, mandatory vaccination, the cost/benefit balance of insurance, and action on climate change. Immediate needs tend to outweigh long-term needs, even when the immediate need is more of a desire and the long-term need is essential for continued existence.
In this chapter, we will take a look at the computer mouse, a tool that hurts most of the people who use it. Now, it doesn’t hurt everyone and, more importantly, those it does hurt are wounded slowly and additively, through what is called repetitive strain. As a result, its usefulness is more immediate than the risk of injury, even though the common injury can cause life-long pain and debilitation. This imbalance is innately ignored, and the relative time frames make it easier to ignore the problem than to respond to it – like the apocryphal frog in the warming water.
Like the frog, we won’t know we’re in trouble until it’s too late.
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