Have we gone mad?

I saw an ad on the telly last night (or an advertisement on the television, as my mother would correct me), extolling the virtues of a new, battery powered, automatic soap dispenser. I can't for the life of me remember the brand, which just goes to show the power of advertising. But here's a similar one I found using google, and which uses the same argument to justify its existence.

And that argument is this: soap, and the increasingly popular liquid soap pump dispensers, harbours millions of tiny, nasty, evil germs. You touch the top of the pump with your e-coli infested finger, and then the next person to use it gets a dose too. Raw chicken juices (yum!) might easily transfer from cook to small child. Dog widdle recently sponged from the floor could be shared with the whole family. Something brown, furry and almost sentient from the back of the fridge might leap from soap dish to hand, and thence to your brain, where it will take over your body like some alien creature from Doctor Who. In no time at all we'll be pod people, all traces of our individuality wiped. Or we might simply die of listeriosis.

But hang on a moment. Soap dispensers, by their very nature, dispense soap. The only reason for touching the top of one is to squirt something cleansing and antibacterial into your palm. And once you've done that, you're most likely to spread it around both hands, with the aid of some nice hot water, in the act of washing. You're hardly likely to then touch the soap dispenser again. Far more likely you're going to reach for the tap (faucet for you other-siders), or a nearby towel. Both of those are far worse horrors when it comes to lurking nastiness.*

I'm not suggesting that we all swap bacillus thuringiensis without a care in the world, but a little bit of exposure to germs is a good thing, surely. Nowadays almost every second advertisement** is for some product or another guaranteed to make the floor or even the toilet seat clean enough to eat off. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought it was best to eat off a plate, with a knife and fork, sitting at a table and making polite conversation about the events of the day. Or at the very least slobbing on the sofa in front of the telly. 

There's a body of thought that suggests our obsession with hygiene is responsible for the massive increase in allergies and asthma in the so-called civilised west.*** Babies' immune systems are missing out on crucial early exposure to the sort of everyday bugs and beasties they are going to have to cope with in later life, and so we descend into a kind of sickly malaise, ready for the next pandemic to come and wipe us out. On the plus side, that would be a quick way to cut our carbon footprint.

But even if that's all just a load of hogwash made up by reactionary dirt-lovers keen to embrace their inner pathogen, insisting that an automatic, no-touch soap dispenser is essential to health and well-being is just plain mad. You don't need to worry about the bugs you might touch just before you wash your hands.

* the average dish cloth, the most commonly used item in the kitchen for drying hands, has more nasty bugs on it than a house fly, apparently. 
** the others are all trying to sell cars.
*** although that doesn't explain my hayfever, since I grew up mostly in and around muddy puddles and fields full of animals.


Hello fellow Blogger!

I thought I’d come by and leave a comment on your blog.

I’m currently raising funds for a cat with a broken leg at a local NO-Kill Humane Society. I’m challenging people to donate $1. If everyone donates $1 and all their friends donate $1, we’ll hit our target in no time!!

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highlandwriter said…
a classic rant!

thanks for keeping us --well-- informed.


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