In this age of rampant emojis—pictorial characters used to communicate succinctly in a fast-paced world—have you ever considered that the five digits at the end of your hands have played similar roles to send messages since way back yonder? Sure, fingers don’t travel easily through cyberspace, but in real life, they’re really rather effective.
Different fingers bear responsibility for individual sentiments, and when banded together in various combinations and positions, they deliver a veritable smorgasbord of signals, signs and meanings. Entire languages, in fact.
Consider the possibilities of solo-finger communication:
- An erect thumb gives a clear affirmation—a simple yes, all good, good to go, good on you, perhaps good luck. Add a quick flick and it converts to ‘get out of here.’ Also useful for hitchhiking, requesting volume increases and signalling distress when scuba diving.
- Peter Pointer has a plethora of things to say. Firstly, it’s the ultimate direction giver. Tapped to a head it signifies crazy, placed against a nose in charades it says yes, twirled it hurries someone along, and when waggled it can berate. Slightly raised, it can also buy a house in an auction or call for the bill in a fancy restaurant. And when driving in the country, that finger when lifted ever so slightly from the steering wheel greets an oncoming driver in a laconic rural salute.
- The role of the index finger is more limited. Reversed and raised, it yells obscenities silently by giving others ‘the bird’, sometimes a most satisfying feeling. Limited, but useful.
- The ring finger seems reserved for ring-related activities. Wave that before a partner to remind them of the benefits of marriage, perhaps with Beyonce playing in the background.
- Ah, the pinkie—a glorious little digit that can be thrust up in disgust at some turkey (almost invariably male) roaring past in an outrageously loud or over-fast vehicle to indicate displeasure and draw comparison between said pinkie and the size of their, hmmm, anatomical sizing. Now even legitimised in Aussie television commercials.
Once those five fine fellows partner up with their mates, with a wrist and forearm tossed in, the communication options are endless. Clenched fists, victory signs, an A-OK or a Trekkie salute—so many possibilities.
Who needs emojis anyway?