digital nation - life on the virtual frontier

Ballin'

June 11, 2009 _ 22:29 / Caitlin McNally / comments (1)

CaitlinBall.jpg
I'm going to let you in a real behind-the-scenes secret, and it's not a glamorous one. At our office in Brooklyn, NY, where the Digital Nation team toils away to bring you steady dispatches from the trenches of wired life, I sit on a ball. Yes, a ball. A big, bouncy, silver exercise ball. That's me, on the ball, over there.

Why do that? I can assure you it's not to amuse my colleagues (although it does, without fail, every time I try to get them to take me seriously while I bounce up and down. It's really hard not to bounce). It's not because I'm dead set on getting ripped abs. I sit on a ball because recently, my body put up a huge protest sign: bad posture will make you pay.

For years, I did my toiling hunched over a small laptop, in a standard old desk chair. As the afternoon hours wore on, a slow deterioration would occur: my shoulders would hunch almost up to my ears, I'd get sucked closer and closer in to the screen, and deep concentration (or, in some cases, frenzy) would keep me from ever really noticing my awful posture and habits.

After long enough of these unhealthy practices, my reckoning day came. One morning, not too long ago, I woke up and I couldn't turn my head. If you were talking right next to me, I had to swivel my whole body to look at you. Sitting, walking and sleeping became exercises in extreme discomfort and humility. I was officially A Person With Back Problems, and it didn't take long to identify the cause: too much screen-staring, too much slouching, just too much.

Fancy furniture companies are always coming out with solutions for our over-stressed, poorly aligned bodies that have spent most waking hours withering in the dim glow of a screen. I'm finding that the low-tech option from the sporting goods store around the corner is working perfectly well so far. But, I gotta say, I really never thought I'd be that person -- someone with chronic back problems, a thick Rolodex of chiropractors and the habit of relating in mind-numbing detail every tweak and surge of pain from the coccyx to the nape of the neck. As we all know, no one ever thinks they're going to be that person, until they are. And now I am -- years of screens, and punishing my body in service of screens, have exacted a revenge.

There are, of course, lots of other forms of work that wreak even more havoc on the body. If I were drilling oil wells all day, say, or dancing professional ballet, I wouldn't have the option of trying to salvage daily posture on an exercise ball. But my work is mostly in front of a computer, as it is increasingly for more and more people. I supposed my body's protest tosses me squarely (or roundly) in to one of the cruel little realities of the digital age.

-- Caitlin

Comments

nice picture. Interview Michelle Mcclure the head of ability online.org for this Report thanks. it would be great.

Anonymous / September 04, 2009 _ 10:47

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posted February 2, 2010

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