Whenever toddlers or small children reach a certain age and are ready to start sitting at the grown-up table, the first step is often employing a booster seat at the table. In a similar manner, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also may have been in need of a little boost to sit at the table with the grown-ups on Capitol Hill—or, at least, that’s what many social media users are saying, despite what a company spokesperson says.
Mark Zuckerberg on a booster seat?
Photos and videos from this week’s Congressional hearings have drawn mockery from social media users who noticed that he was sitting on some sort of cushion that’s been dubbed a “booster seat.” The Washingtonian was actually the first to point out the cushion under Mark Zuckerberg’s back side.
As The Guardian notes, the Facebook executive is about 5’7″ tall. For a man, that’s a bit on the short side, although not uncomfortably so. Sitting on the booster seat made Zuckerberg seem to be a little taller, and social media users were quick to poke fun, suggesting that the company had brought the seat along so that he would seem taller than he is.
A spokesperson for the company denied that rumor in a statement sent to the New York Post, saying that the four-inch cushion was standard issue by the Senate Judiciary Committee, which wants everyone who’s subject to extensive grilling by lawmakers to feel comfortable. The spokesperson said providing that cushion is “standard practice” for the judiciary committee, although it is interesting that when Apple CEO Tim Cook gave testimony before Congress several years ago, no one took any notice of a thick cushion underneath his back side. People were more focused on what he had to say.
Legitimate reasons given for the booster seat
Fortune spoke to experts who explained that there could be some good physical reasons for providing a thick cushion like that to those giving extensive testimony before lawmakers. A New York physiatrist explained that providing a thick pad like that is “not crazy,” adding that many people in the U.S. “use a little back support,” usually for good reasons.
My first thought when it comes to back support is lumbar support, but there are various reasons people might sit with a cushion underneath their bottom as well. He explained that sitting for long periods of time strains the discs in the back, which is why so many people use cushions to raise them up or support different parts of their back. Additionally, he said shorter people may be more uncomfortable in certain chairs than taller people because chairs are often designed for people who are between 5’8″ and 5’10” in height.
Mark Zuckerberg testified for about five hours on Tuesday with short breaks periodically, and then he returned to Capitol Hill today to provide testimony to another set of lawmakers. All those hours spent sitting in a chair without moving much would surely put strain on one’s back and hips. As a result, it’s generally a good idea to get up and stretch every so often, but when you’re spilling your guts to Congress, it’s probably unwise to stand up and pace while you’re being grilled.