The Curse of Muscle Memory

Prompted by me having to rename LOADS of files because my co-worker has repeatedly used O instead of 0 in a lot of file names reminded me of something Mum told me years ago.

Early typewriters used to omit the number 1, as it was identical to the lowercase letter L. Not a problem, as it gets typed directly onto paper.

Mum was editing someone elses Excel document, as there were loads of errors. It was created by someone who learned to type on an old-style typewriter… and had to replace all the Ls for 1s.

Have you encountered (or caused) problems because of muscle memory - where your body is so used to doing something one way and you can’t stop yourself from changing?


Very, very short term and super irrelevant for anything important in life:

Brushing my hair after having been to the hairdresser. I always brush “too long” making me sort of slip out of the hair with a jerky motion when I reach the end :sweat_smile:

Edit: Also typing the @ sign. I grew up with a Swedish keyboard where @ is ALT Gr+2. 12 years later, I’m still doing that even though I use a German keyboard (ALT GR+Q)


Weird, Both alts work for Capital letters here. All (most) symbols are with numbers. @ is Alt (either one) + 2 for me as well.

Whoever thought it was wise to slightly change keyboards, so that the whole world now uses different settings:

Thanks a lot you ***


I remember going to Germany on business, and after the umpteenth time of typing something wrong, I finally discovered how to change the keyboard language.

Just as well, as it was driving me crzay!

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I play both on the Nintendo Switch and on PC with an Xbox controller. Now, gamers know that the A/B and X/Y buttons are exactly swapped on the two. It goes without saying that too often, I’ll hit “B” when I want to press “A” and the other way around when using one after the other. (Although I must say I am getting better at remembering which layout is currently under my fingers :grin: )


I just had to compare the two because I’ve always managed to automatically switch brain gears between them I never noticed before. That said, there was one Dynasty Warriors game I tried to play on PC after playing others on PS. For some reason, the top button was set to be the select button. It’s usually the bottom or the right, but right was cancel/back and bottom opened some other menu. I never did get used to that layout.

Also, I often get confused by whether I should use spacebar or the keypad to pause, and which mouse button to click for moving the screen around.

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Speaking of muscle memory: anyone ever took the wrong road, because that’s the road you always take to work/school/whatever, and realize too late, ‘oh I’m not heading there, I should’ve turned the other way back there’


I’m sure I’ve done that more than once. Can’t remember any specifics, unfortunately!

I did that once a long time back. I was driving my son to school before I went to work. We were talking, and I automatically turned left to head to work instead of going straight to take him to school. We realized my mistake quickly, and I turned at the next street to loop back around to his school, but we both found it hilarious that I almost took him to work with me out of sheer absent-mindedness.


It would have been extra ironic if it was “bring your child to work” day at your workplace :grin:


I worked as an accounting clerk in a large company. Eventually, I was trained to handle switchboard relief.

It was then that I discovered that adding machine number pads and phone number pads are not arranged in the same way. I can switch back and forth easily now, but it was torture at first.


I know exactly what you mean. I never understood this, but luckily, I don’t use a lot of phone number pads anymore.

I changed my route to pick my daughter up from work because she works evenings and part of my route took me through an undeveloped section of road that has LOTS of deer. The close call I had when I came around a corner and a deer was jogging down the center line right as I came out of the curve was too much for my nerves. It was so fast I’m not sure if he ran in front of me and then changed direction to parallel or if he was on the line the whole time.

It took me well over a month to auto-drive the new route going to her work and leaving from her work.


Good thing you didn’t actually hit anything. Though this was scary enough! I’d imagine that with the same destination, it’s even harder to turn off the auto pilot.


I have nearly always driven with my handbag on the passenger seat of my car.
When I was much younger (and much less responsible) I had a terrible habit of late-braking and slamming them on, sending my bag flying off the seat in to the footwell. I developed an instinctive reaction to throw my arm out and stop my bag from going. Even if i had no bag there, my arm would go out.

I’m now a much better and safe driver, but to this day, if something unexpected (like a sudden animal in the road) causes me to brake hard my arm will still fling out to catch my bag. The number of passengers I’ve hit in the stomach over the years…


Not just me then…

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I’ve been divorced for 2 weeks. I can’t sign my current name. If I don’t force myself to think, I sign my married name. If I do force myself to think I can’t sign the same way every time, my hand wants to go elsewhere.


It’s a running joke among some of my friends that if you see a car with its windscreen wipers going on a dry day, it’s about to make a turn.

I have definitely been that person; I remember going to make a turn in a new car, and discovering that the indicator stalk and the wiper stalk were on opposite sides from my old car…


I’ve driven a fair share of cars, but I never had one where the wipers and indicators were opposite. Thank god, because I’d be doing it wrong for months!


Muscle memory is the bane of gamers.

Say you play lots of titles in the same franchise, even on the same system. Simple things like newer games introducing a new feature can become aggravating. For example, switching between the PC version of Resident Evil 2’s remake–which allows strafing and attacking while moving–and Resident Evil 4–which allows neither–can cause major issues in the latter game.

The HD Project for Resident Evil 4 adds in the ability to turn with the mouse (something the base game lacks entirely). As a result, switching between 4 and 2 causes different muscle memory problems depending on if you’re playing the base game or with this widely popular mod: if it’s the base game, you’re going to run into issues turning, since 2 uses A and D for strafing and the mouse for both turning and aiming, while 4 uses A and D for turning and the mouse for aiming and changing the camera’s angle: with the HD mod, the mouse becomes more like with 2, but A and D still turn the character. Thankfully it’s easy to adapt to.

This is common for franchises on all platforms, however, as each installment fine-tunes and tweaks game play, regardless of whether or not you install mods or your preferred method of controlling you character. There’s even a page on TV Tropes named “D*mn You, Muscle Memory” about this.

It’s unavoidable, but most gamers learn to adapt. Sometimes, unfortunately, the changes are either too drastic or incorporate unintuitive controls, leading to serious issues and fan backlash.