Artistic geniuses Michelangelo, Picasso, Beethoven and also Alfred Hitchcock, Paul McCartney and Barack Obama are famous lefties. I’ve also some very creative left-handed family members (my mom, for one:)). You will probably know a few yourself, since the number of left-handed people in the world is on the rise and… it’s likely to keep growing! According to trend-watcher Mark J. Penn this is one of those fascinating small phenomena behind tomorrow’s big changes. It’s going to alter our society’s.
In most cultures the left side of things has been associated with evil and inferiority. It’s even embedded in our language. The French word for ‘left’ gauche means ‘awkward’, in Chinese the adjective ‘left’ means ‘improper’ and in Dutch we say ‘you have two left-hands’ when people are acting clumsy. Left-handedness has been routinely discouraged or even beaten out of people until the seventies. But not less than 16% of all people is left-handed and they represent the creativity and innovation that is much needed in our economies.
Why will there be more lefties in the future? 1. Parents celebrate individuality instead of surpressing the uniqueness of their child. 2. Left-handed kids are disproportionately represented among twins (whose number grew by more than half in the past 20 years. 3. They are also more likely to be born to older moms. Women have children much later in life.
The rise of left-handed people means not just that we’ll have more lefties in school and in the workplace (product-designers: make swappable handles and alternative southpaw versions please:)) but also that society is becoming more open and tolerant. The percentage of lefties in a country may actually be one of the best indicators we have of whether a society is open and flexible or rigid and suppressive.
Photo: Left Store (Arthur Foliard) a concept store for left-handed people.