There are red faces today in the media after a story that broke over the weekend about a man surgically altering his thumbs for his iPhone was revealed to be a hoax.
The story, which first appeared in the North Denver News, told the tale of Thomas Martel's decision to shorten his thumbs to allow him to use his iPhone more easily. A pioneering technique called "whittling" was used to allow the large handed Mr Martel use his beloved iPhone.
"From my old Treo, to my Blackberry, to this new iPhone, I had a hard time hitting the right buttons, and I always lost those little styluses," explained Martel.
"Sure, the procedure was expensive, but when I think of all the time I save by being able to use modern handhelds so much faster, I really think the surgery will pay for itself in 10 to 15 years. And what it's saving me in frustration – that's priceless."
The surgery had been done by a Dr Robert Fox Spars, who was reported as being a pioneer in the field of plastic surgery for workplace efficiency.
The story spread around the world over the weekend. But the editor of the North Denver News has now admitted it was made up as a piece of social commentary.
"Careful reading of the piece makes it clear to any critical consumer of information that the piece is pure humour and not news or reported as fact," said the editor in a note in the paper.
"Among the points of the piece: that US society accepts plastic surgery and decorative deformation of the human body for vanity, but not other reasons (consider the Bonds steroid stories); that technology has become a new cult phenomena, in which items are praised or ridiculed based upon tribal allegiances instead of functionality and performance (and we are members of the Cult of the Mac iPhone division); and we like to pretend that some of our writers have a sense of humour."
"Thanks to Franz Kafka, who must be smiling upon this whole episode."
The statement said that the use of the word whittling was an obvious clue, as was the name of the doctor, as a reference to Fox News.
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