Comfortably Numb

The world, you know, is often a curious place. And change happens, sometimes unexpectedly and frequently unpredictably.

In some instances, the response to change is “It’s about time!” or “What have we been waiting for?” And often in such situations, perhaps after a fair amount of time passes, many seem to agree and endorse the change, exhaling a collective “Whew!”

But in other cases, at least initially, there is resistance and the adjustment period can be extensive. Mules now stubbornly insist on entry to horse shows. Cats demand to compete at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show. What’s next? You can think of other yet-to-be-resolved changes being sought.

But the really big change that’s occurring – thus far overlooked by mainstream media – can be found at your fingertip. Yep, the end of a digit.

Increasingly, the world is touch screen-driven. And it’s no longer restricted to your cell phone or tablet. Virtually every fast-food joint on the planet has a cash register equipped with a touch screen that so-called cashiers operate by tapping icons that look just like the thing you ordered.

Medium-speed restaurants dispense with dispensers altogether. Instead, each table comes equipped with a pad and customers touch-in their orders. (I suppose this saves us from the annoyingly insincere greetings humans once engaged in.) A little later, a server serves.

My six-month old car has a radio with (my) pre-set stations displayed on a touch screen. (Three screens, in fact, each with six stations.) I tap, the station changes.

Don’t worry, the present column is no nostalgic plea for the old-fashioned radio tuning knob that produced such wrist strain as to require orthopedic intervention; to do so would also require reversion to rotary telephone dialing. Nor is there any yearning for the push buttons that required the force of a sledgehammer wielded by 18 year-old boys in order to function.

But, as is often the case with innovation, disruption follows, including the law of unintended consequences. And it’s a law, not a rule.

After operating my car for half a year, with its new-fangled radio touch screen, debilitation has already set in.

Not from the boredom produced by harmonious boy bands or chipper, svelte tween girls.

It isn’t an aural numbness, it’s physical numbness that’s been produced. Right fore- and middle-finger tips have lost sensation. Nerve endings dulled due to excessive tapping.

All sad. All true. The bright side, though, is my aim has improved immeasurably. I don’t suppose there are any awards for sharpshooting touch screens.

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