Real Men Don't Use Ergonomics

Opinion by Simon Travaglia

COMPUTING, THE ONCE rugged trade of bashing information into an inanimate object so that it could, in turn, reluctantly spit out incorrect information (allowing computing professionals to charge more money for bashing the information in again, and so on), is becoming the arena of wimps!

These days if you don't have a neck support and at least three fingers with RSI (Repetitive Stress, uh, and something that begins with I), you're a working miracle! It's a status symbol to claim that half your body is racked with pain as soon as you sit down at your machine!

And why? Because the WEAK are gaining CONTROL!

Sorry to get so annoyed. It's just that I don't know what the computing world's coming to!

It started with ergonomics--you know, furniture designed with the aesthetically-pleasing thought of making masses of money. (Ergo = Masses; Nomics = Money.) Office equipment that was previously only seen in futuristic hair-dressing salons is appearing in almost every computing workplace.

Tables that move up and down. Gas-operated chairs that move up and down. Ergonomic manufacturers' market shares that go up and up.

The only thing I ever had that went up and down was vertical gain, and you adjusted it by banging on the top of your screen with a closed fist.

These days, all people think about is hazards. Anti-glare screens to prevent eye strain. In my day, you didn't need an anti-glare screen. With the power they consumed, when you turned your computer on, the whole building darkened!

You want a REAL workplace hazard? Try standing next to a chunky 185-amp power supply when the smoothing capacitor shorts out. Or repatching lines in an interbuilding Comms room during a lightning storm. Or walking past a fully loaded, roof-height tape rack when its feet finally give way. Now THAT's a real hazard! Or try dropping a raised-floor tile on your foot!!! Walk away from that baby without tears in your eyes, and you DESERVE compensation!

What were once minuscule workplace annoyances are now major priority issues. Like noisy fans and power supplies! ANYONE who complains about a noisy fan or power supply needs to spend a week or two in the presence of a PUNCH CARD machine. Three weeks later, when they recover their sanity, give them their old computer back. See if they complain. I THINK NOT!

It seems to me that we're seeing Darwin's laws reversed. The WEAK are inheriting the earth, and bringing ergonomic devices with them.

It's not all bad, of course. I should calm down. At least people don't beg to use your machine for a "quick job" anymore because it takes them about three years to get the keyboard height, neck angle, and lighting worked out. In fact, it's hard for them to get ANYTHING done because one of the symptoms of occupational stress is supposedly "fatigue." Fatigue! FATIGUE!! This is WORK we're talking about here, isn't it? WORK. If it were SLEEP and you got fatigued, then MAYBE you'd have something to worry about.

So, take my advice! The proper answer to the question, "When would you like your workplace adjusted to reduce stress?" is, of course, "WHEN THEY PRY THE SMOKING KEYBOARD OUT OF MY COLD, LIFELESS, RSI-FREE HANDS!"