What makes a left-hander?Read More
Imagine someone is passing you a cup of coffee – which hand will you use to take it? Did you have to think about that? In an everyday situation, this is usually a subconscious decision and you simply reach with your dominant hand, just as you do to write and eat. However, as a lefty I’ve always been curious about this, so I’ve decided to have a look in to what might cause this difference. About 9 in 10 people are right-handed, leaving a small minority of left-handers,1 with famous left-handers including Barack Obama, Leonardo da Vinci and Buzz Aldrin.
Over the years, left-handers have been the subject of many superstitions2, ranging from a bit of bad luck all the way to associations with the devil. If you have a left-handed grandparent, they may have even been forced to use their right hand when learning to write at school3. In a slightly more modern context, any left-hander will know that tools such as scissors and tin openers are often designed for easy use in the right hand, and this can leave us struggling with what should be simple tasks! So why does the world have such a bias towards right-handedness?
Among many other factors, language is a strong contributor to the ongoing negative reputation of left-handedness. For example, in French, “droit” not only means “right”, but also straight, law and right in the legal sense, so has strong positive connotations. Left, “gauche”, is similar to more negative words with meanings such as clumsy, graceless and unhappy. This trend is echoed in many other languages around the world, in fact in Latin, left can be translated as “sinister”. Even in certain religions, the right-hand side is preferred, for example in Christianity the right hand of God is the favoured hand.
So, we know that there is a long-standing negative reputation for use of the left hand, but this isn’t something a baby will take into account when developing a dominant hand. Here follows a quick run-through of some theories behind hand dominance.
Hand preference does in fact begin to develop in the womb, with around 40 genes chipping in to choose a dominant side6, but this isn’t the only influence! In fact, in around 20% of identical twin sets, one twin is right-handed and the other is left-handed. This means there must be more factors at play. One study showed that a significant right hand bias is established by 13 months4, and further insight suggests that handedness develops at different ages for different tasks5. Therefore, it is likely that you have an overall bias but that your choice of hand for less important tasks is a mixture of nature and nurture.
Another idea is that the spinal cord indicates a preference for right or left handedness9. During pregnancy, a child will develop a preference for moving one hand. Expanding on this, certain precursors of handedness develop before the motor cortex in the brain has formed a connection to the spine. It is because of this that researchers now think the spinal cord is more significant than the brain in the development of a dominant hand.
The final factor I have explored is “social cooperation”. Humans are a social species, placing high value on cooperativity in society, and as a result, the trend of right-handedness has evolved8. This TED-Ed video gives a brilliant explanation of social competition vs cooperation as well as a good overview of some extra factors10.
Although you may use different hands for different tasks, you are likely to have a definite overall tendency to use one hand more. Ambidexterity is the ability to use both left and right hands equally well, and is a rare phenomenon, with less than 1% of the population being classified as truly ambidextrous. There was a time when being ambidextrous was encouraged, it was even claimed that learning to use your weaker hand could give you “cross dominance” and improved brain function, but science has since shown that this is not true11.
It is of course possible to learn to use your non-dominant hand, for example after a stroke or serious injury many people have had to learn to use their weaker hand in order to write, but unless this happens at a very early age it is unlikely to result in complete ambidexterity12. However, being naturally ambidextrous from birth has been associated with disadvantages such as academic difficulties and developmental conditions13.
It’s clear that there are many complicated factors behind hand dominance, and there’s still a lot more to learn before we fully understand it. If you want to find out more, this quick test can tell you just how left/right inclined you are. Your result might surprise you! Tweet me @HelenAtNotch and let me know what you get.
Will YouTube ever be the same again?Read More
What is YouTube?
YouTube has been a popular streaming site for just over a decade now and as of 2017 is the second most used website on the internet. Its popularity has stemmed from the creative freedom that it allows its users to have, whether they’re looking for videos branching out from film reviews or something completely different, like makeup tutorials. A key selling point for YouTube is that anyone with a camera and an idea can upload a video to the site without going through any filters that try and dilute down the content that they intend to upload. The intimacy between the creators and viewers on the website turned the small video sharing site of 2005 into the digital juggernaut that it is today. However, as YouTube grew bigger in popularity, it attracted bigger companies that wanted to advertise on the site. Although that meant great things economically, it also meant increased risk of slipping up.
On the 17th March 2017 The Times published a disparaging article on YouTube. They had discovered that adverts from big companies like BBC and L’Oreal were showing up on videos displaying hate speech and non-brand friendly videos that might tarnish the reputation of such companies if seen by the wrong people. As this article started to trend online, it reached the eyes of many companies that acted quickly by pulling their adverts from the site. This exodus of ads included companies like Pepsi, Walmart, GSK, Johnson & Johnson and many more. Many among the YouTube community came to know this as the “Adpocalypse” since adverts were sparse on the site. According to analyst firm Nomura Instinet, YouTube could’ve lost up to $750 million because of the drop of adverts on the website.
Effect on YouTubers
Every video on YouTube is able to make money for the creator of the video and for YouTube itself. In simple terms the money comes from the adverts that pop up on the video and the more views that a video gets, the more money the video makes. After the “Adpocalypse” many of the videos on the site started to make significantly less money because no adverts were appearing on them anymore. This started to become a problem for people who made a living from creating videos on the site because they were getting very little income. This led to YouTubers venturing into new opportunities such as another live streaming website called Twitch and other forms of social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. A lot of YouTubers dropped out of school when they became popular so very few have a backup job that they can rely on if anything goes wrong.
Attempt to Recover
YouTube always had guidelines that people uploading a video must adhere to but they were so lenient that most videos aligned within the rules anyway. However, with adverts appearing on videos that shouldn’t have been allowed on the website, the rules were strictly tightened in an attempt to stop anything like the “Adpocalypse” happening again. These new rules have changed YouTube since creating videos is a more cautious process now that content creators are being monitored a bit more closely. This has made the platform a lot more family friendly, which has annoyed the fans who dislike television for the same reason. One of these new rules are to stop swearing as much, which has also angered the viewers because they came to YouTube for raw and real content from their favourite creators, not people who have to censor themselves in order to make money. Another rule that has stirred some controversy is the ban of graphic content in videos. This is especially affecting independent news channels that can’t make money on their videos if they show any footage of terrorist attacks or police shootings that bigger news stations like CNN or BBC can share on television.
As always YouTube are trying to fix some of the problems and resolve some of the issues that their new set of guidelines have brought with them but the “Adpocalypse” has really got people wondering if YouTube will ever be the same again.
What are your opinions on YouTube? Do you think it’s changed? Tweet me your thoughts @ollieatnotch