The Shape of Things to Come

A New Year and a New Us.

When my editor told me that was the theme for our January
issue, I began to think about human anatomy and realized we
are overdue for some adaptations in our evolutionary process.

Remember how the woolly mammoth shed his fur coat to morph into the Asian elephant? I’m not suggesting we pawn our coats (or clothes), but changes I am
proposing will help humans adapt to the Technology Age. These need to happen now – before it’s too late.

Pudgy thumbs are so yesterday. They worked for our grasping primate ancestors and the tree climbing sloths, but what do we do more of today – grasp or text?
And when was the last time you climbed a tree?

For the speed and accuracy required to operate small keyboards a longer, thinner, pointier thumb is so much more efficient and completely possible. Didn’t fins
become extremities as organisms moved from water to land?

I also suggest refining the index finger. Still useful for pointing (and the guilty pleasure of cleaning one’s nostril), it’s not sufficiently streamlined for
precision use on the E-reader or to swipe quickly through the dating apps – an apparent necessity if the species is to survive.

A third eye on top of the head would be nice. This would prevent disasters such as stepping off curbs into oncoming traffic because the current two are now focused
downward, staring into smart phones.

Ophthalmologist’s visits might take longer and baseball caps would have to be redesigned, but these are small inconveniences when you consider the accidents
that could be avoided.

Consider another set of ears. Odd-looking at first, but very practical. We can stuff two with ear buds, while the other two are ready to process important sounds,
like the person shouting because you’re about to step into an open man-hole.

As we accommodate, some organs might shrivel or disappear due to disuse. Since social networking doesn’t require actual verbal communication, vocal
cords, like tail bones, may become a vestige of a past life.

Adaptation isn’t flawless. Humans have been upright for 6 million years, and evolution hasn’t perfected the spine. But if we continue to keep our necks
bent forward, endlessly staring at iPhones, we may eventually re-assume the horizontal posture of our ancestors. Perhaps some problems are best solved by going backwards.

Susan Goldfein holds a doctorate in Communication Disorders from Teachers
College, Columbia University, and enjoyed a successful career as a clinician,
teacher, and consultant. For more essays filled with wit, wisdom and irony,
visit Susan’s blog, Her book, “How Old Am I in
Dog Years?” may be purchased on and


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