Sometimes people need to be saved from themselves. Since I’m a big fan of personal responsibility, I don’t often call on third parties like government, corporations or even friends to provide limits that individuals should find in themselves. But I’m making an exception to this arid view with the gestures functionality on Mac computers, iPads/pods and iPhones.
Gestures is sign language for humans to communicate with their computers. Swipe on a track pad or touch screen with two fingers and something happens; push up with three fingers and dramatic changes instantly appear on screen. Bunch a fist, roll your knuckles, tap out a rhythm or cross your pinkies and wave and items zoom, pop and whirl in response. It’s ingenious, intuitive (sort of) and reassuringly infantile.
But for those of us who flick, tic and jolt through life with Tourettes, gestures is bad news. You see, swiping to the left means you also have to swipe to the right. Yes. You have to! And one double tap always means another 2 or 10 or 1,568 double taps. A pinch is just the appetizer to a banquet of prods, swishes and staccato drumming.
You can see how this is a problem. It’s a productivity enemy. Going back and forth, and back and forth and back and forth and… (you get it) between pages on a web browser gives me whiplash (although it’s comforting to know that I’m messing with the tracking cookies placed by corporate voyeurs). Everyone needs to know what other windows are open on one’s computer but seeing them 60 times every 20 seconds is a bit repetitive. And those online forms, I wonder if they ever get tired of reloading, reloading, reloading, re…?
So what do people like me do as we stutter through life? Turning gestures off is possible but the iOS is moving us ever more quickly into sand castles and mud puddles, a childlike state of touching, tapping and massaging meaning into our brains through our fingers. If that’s the future of working with computers, disabling gestures is like puncturing the tires on a speeding wheelchair – a dramatic solution to the wrong problem.
We need help. My suggestion is to put a timer onto gestures that would kick into action when it detects physical stuttering. That way, after eight rapid swipes the lock comes on for 10 seconds and forbids any more swipes (and 10 seconds is usually long enough for the brain’s reset button to flick the tic switch). Perhaps the lock could allow two pinches, four clicks, three zooms, a couple of drags and then #%*BAM*%#, the Tourettes Auto Lock snaps closed. There could be user settings too since the intensity of the affliction ebbs and flows. Practically that means we could have good day/bad day presets for the TAL. On good days I can set it at a permissive five gestures with a three second lock. And on bad days, when there are just two form resets followed by a zoom-zoom, it means a full 20 seconds in the penalty box.
With this kind of locking device, think of the increased productivity and the sighs of relief from those who study website analytics. This could reduce useless web traffic, wear and tear to computers and mobile devices and the frustration of people like me around the world.
Life’s a twitch… and some of us need help.