In 2016 Vice reported that non-dominant hand masturbation (also known as “left hand wanking”) was a thing. Various explanations for this practice have been presented, including the thrill of using a less familiar hand to caress one’s genitals. However, some masturbators have insisted that the practice was the result of using the right hand to watch online porn while spanking the monkey, so to speak. Although a group of enterprising British psychologists recently concluded that people typically use their dominant hand to masturbate, as a social anthropologist – and left-handed – I was intrigued by the idea that digital technology could change patterns associated with left-handedness.
Ironically, this topic has been the subject of very little research, although a moment’s reflection suggests that the encroachment on the digitalization of our daily lives is affect the handshake. After all, most of us spend far more time typing and texting than writing, activities that require both hands, at least if you want to do them professionally. This does not mean that the handshake is obsolete. If some people choose to change their hand while masturbating to online porn, it’s presumably because the manual precision required to use a mouse far exceeds that of hitting a bishop. But How issues of manual control can change with the technology itself – and especially with the transition from analog and manual technologies to digital and automated ones.
In a world of computers, mobile phones, automatic doors, self-driving cars, and voice-activated devices—not to mention the fully virtual environment that Meta represents—what role does the handshake play?
The problem is that we still don’t fully understand what drives hands in humans, although this characteristic is unique to our species and our direct ancestors, given that our closest living primate relatives don’t show consistent hand preferences. to about the same extent.
However, technology is certainly an important part of the history of the human hand. First, we learned from studying their tools that our closest hominin ancestors were predominantly right-handed. In fact, it seems that the use of tools itself was part of the driving force behind the hands. Studies in non-human primates show that manual preference for one hand over another becomes more robust when tools are used, especially those that require a precise grip. In other words, as our tools became more sophisticated, manual control became more important. There is a strong proof this preference for right-handers was firmly established by the advent of the Neanderthals, a view reinforced by asymmetries in skeletal remains.
Sure, our lifestyles today are more tech-heavy than ever, but while the nature of the technology we use on a daily basis has changed drastically over the last 50 years, our manual labor numbers haven’t caught up. If asked, most people would use the hand they write with to identify their hilt. The problem is that this is a startlingly weak measure of actual handiness given the ways in which cultural bias against the left hand applied to writing practice all over the world. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that our main measure of hands is action, which many of us spend almost no time on.
While academic hand measures are more complex, the current standard is a modified version of the standard. Edinburgh Hand Inventory, developed in 1971 by Scottish experimental psychologist Carolus Oldfield. The initial inventory included assessing participants’ overall handiness based on which hand they used (or which hand was dominant) for 20 activities: writing, drawing, throwing, use of scissors, comb, toothbrush, knife without a fork, spoon, etc. e. hammer, screwdriver, tennis racket, knife and fork, cricket bat, golf club, broom, rake, strike a match, open a box, deal cards, and thread a needle.