Interesting thing here. CNET gives high marks to a new left-handed mouse. The Logitech MX610 scores 8.4 out of 10, winning the reviewer over with comfortable ergonomics, all sorts of buttons, wireless digital tracking, and one feature I didn’t expect.
“We appreciate that the mouse’s right button, where a left-hander’s pointer finger naturally rests, is preprogrammed as the primary button, eliminating any need to switch the mouse settings within the Windows Control Panel,” the reviewer says. “This is also handy if you share your computer with a right-hander, whose mouse will continue to function normally even if it’s plugged in at the same time as the left-handed MX610.”
As a left-hander who always bumps into things, regularly knocks things over and has a chainsaw accident on record, it boggles my mind actual companies go so far as to buy mice (plural!) for different-handed people on the same machine. But even more odd to me is the idea of reversing the mouse buttons. My people really do that?
I’m no expert in this niche. Despite a fierce hatred of erasible pens and can openers, and only grudging acceptance of spiralbound notebooks and my family moving the doorbell to the right side of their front door (after 23 years in the house), I’ve always use the mouse on the right-hand side. A left-side mouse never seemed to be a possibility. At least the dream of left-handed scissors existed, if scarce enough to be ambi-encouraging.
So I got used to the right side, and the left became strange. Why would I put my mouse on the left side when I could hold a pen or drink there? (Currently hot chocolate.) And if my left hand was on the mouse, what would my right hand do? Cut paper? That’s about the only thing it’s good for. Now that I think about it, what do right-handed computer people do with their left hands all day? Nothing?
But my main point here is the whole button thing. When the reviewer writes, “the mouse’s right button, where a left-hander’s pointer finger naturally rests, is preprogrammed as the primary button,” she’s saying click is right-click and right-click is click. It confuses me just to think about it. I’m not chalking that up to language. While the user messaging around clicking must be awful to rethink every time, it’s not like the rest of the world’s messaging is any clearer. It’s the focus that bothers me. The method seems more pure than mine, but the unused right hand feels like such a waste.
Is such a feeling adaptive treason? A southpaw’s Stockholm Syndrome? I don’t know. The situation makes one think of ye old days of left-handers forced to write right-handed. There’s plenty of creative-stunting allegations attached to the issue, but the bios of the greatest lefties (which grade-school lefties devour) show an amazing number of ambidextrous reactions. “He writes with his right hand, but does insert great skill here with his left,” goes the standard line. Always on this list is President Garfield, writing Greek with one hand while writing Latin with the other.
Unless Garfield had some wacky and historically unexplored synpases, a good guess is his parlor trick was more pushing the pens than near parallel thought. But even in that capacity, even with only occasional practice, wouldn’t the mental exercise have been good for him? In the mouse situation, translating messenging is a kind of exercise, but you have to wonder if the purity offers enough.