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Thumb Twiddling

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Twiddling thumbs.

The ancient art of thumb twiddling is a subject that has many nuances, and a depth which is not seen upon initial contemplation. A twiddle is defined as the rotation of an object around a similar object in varying velocities and rhythms. Its origin is in the word 'fiddling', which is used to describe the unorganised maintenance of different things such as hair, papers, etc. A twiddle's main purpose is to pass the time. Similar methods of twiddling include finger tapping, hair splitting, foot shaking, and tongue clucking.

The Psychology of Thumb Twiddling

It has been suggested that the study of personal thumb twiddling preferences can be used as a way to define a twiddler's personality traits, similar to the study of handwriting. Twiddle analysis is in its infancy however, and more research needs to be done before it can be accepted into mainstream psychology.

Contact vs Non-Contact Twiddling

There are those who avoid any thumb contact at all while twiddling, and those who derive satisfaction from the full-contact variety. It's rather dependent on one's mood. Sometimes there's a great deal of joy to be derived from avoidance of contact and other times it's rather soothing to have the intimacy of the full-contact sort, and comfort to be found in the gentle 'shushing' noise one can generate by colliding one's thumbs together once per rotation.

It is important to remember that a person should not be judged by their twiddle alone. Judging a person solely on their twiddle without observing their good qualities would sadly brand one as a twiddlist.

The Basic Steps to Twiddling One's Thumbs

Step One - Clasp Your Hands

This may be done in any way that is comfortable for the individual twiddler. The hand clasp is the proper positioning for the 'classic' twiddle. Hand clasp is by personal preference, defined by which index finger is on top, as the thumbs will be busy twiddling. Experimental evidences suggests that index finger positioning of left over right vs right over left makes no discernible difference in twiddling capability when using a Reverse twiddle.

  • Alternative Hand Patterns - Simply having the fingertips touching can also allow adequate mobility for thumb twiddling, especially for those with long thumbs. Alterations include how the fingers are curved, and the loosening or tightening of the finger clasp.

  • Twiddle Rotation - twiddle rotation is, again, a personal preference. Experimentation has concluded however, that a reverse twiddle is preferred over a forward twiddle for the average, right-handed twiddler. A reverse twiddle is defined as a twiddle where the topmost thumb at the apex of the twiddle is headed toward the torso.

Step Two - Commence Twiddling

Take one thumb, twirl it over the other thumb, take the other thumb, twirl it over the first one.

Repeat as necessary.

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