1 min read

Redefining Ergonomics

Harder than it looks.
ergonomics, n.
The scientific study of the efficiency of people in their working environment. - Oxford English Dictionary

Historically, ergonomics has focused on efficiency in the workplace. But that just doesn't sound right anymore.

First, most work done today is done via computers. So we can effectively reduce “workplace” to “computer.”

Second, corporations benefit most from efficiency, but individuals benefit most from staying healthy. With computer work, these two are at odds in the short term. I say: let’s prioritize the health of the individual.

Finally, computers are everywhere. We don’t just work on them, we socialize, research, and are entertained through them. So focusing on the workplace misses the broader point.

To sum it up, here’s my official redefinition:

Ergonomics is about making the interaction between computers and people as healthy as possible.

Computers certainly do more good than harm, but why should we accept the harm at face value? Do we have to deal with these issues?

  • Poor physical posture, which can lead to everything from back pain to jugular vein stenosis
  • Weak posterior chain from excessive sitting
  • Repetitive strain injury in hands
  • Scattering our brains with the neverending now
  • Anonymity-enabled vitriol
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Eyes focusing at a single distance
  • Sedentariness
  • Blue light exposure
  • Psychology-hacking dopamine-producing content recommendation algorithms (link)

Our biology is ancient. We were designed to be in the sun, lift heavy objects, walk several miles a day, and interact with humans IRL.

In their current form, computers suffocate us, and if we don’t do something about it, we’ll be a generation whose bodies age faster than our minds.

I’ve been affected by too many of these issues, so I’ve got a personal vendetta here. I want to know how we can mitigate and perhaps even flip some of these issues entirely.

Questions I’m using to stoke my curiosity:

  • How can we make the layer between cyberspace and meatspace as painless as possible?
  • How can we make working with computers the healthiest job in the world?

I look forward to finding out.