Look, I’m for technology as much as the next guy who works in IT. Hell, if anything, I’m MORE for technology. I positively love it, I use it non-stop, I practically BATHE in technology I love it so much. When the solution to my problems was possibly a pencil and a pad of paper, I bought a Palm Pilot because I figured it costing real money made sure I wouldn’t just leave it somewhere. (It worked. Also, Cody’s annoying ex-girlfriend: I guess you were right. You’re still annoying.)
That being said, we gotta cut the shit with the chemicals. Specifically, let’s start with hand sanitizer.
There are (possible?) issues with triclosan, one of the most common ingredients in antibacterial products. Now, I don’t want to be alarmist on this one, but really: it’s toxic to bacteria and algae in the environment, which should be argument enough. Then there’s the matter of possible endocrine disruption in humans. It’s been documented in animals. Sure, these things don’t always carry over to humans, but do they really have to? Manufacturing all this crap and putting it out into the world… I’ll tell you a secret: we’re exposing animals to it. I like animals. In some cases, I like them more than people, so I’m not really crazy about rewiring my cat’s endocrine system, or that of a random bird out in the wild. Are these far-fetched possibilities? Perhaps, but you have to measure the damage against the possible benefits, right?
What are the benefits? Good question! For starters, when you obsessively wipe down your desk with antibacterial crap every day, you have the first benefit of making your work area smell horrible and chemically for a while. Let me tell you, I love that. After that, you have the benefit of killing off weak bacteria, both harmful and beneficial. You kill them on your desk, your hands, your phone, wherever the heck they are. They’re dead. You don’t kill any viruses. And the strong ones? You just serve to make them stronger by testing their constitutions against our front line defenses. Hey, who cares if I’m not stopping MRSA, right? At least I got the harmless bacteria that was going to digest the crumbs from that cupcake! (whew!)
Then there’s the issue of our immune systems. While we’re busy killing off all the weaksauce germs and making the strong ones better at killing us (or at least making us sick), we’re also killing off the germs on our bodies. The ones that were always there. They stuck by us, for better and for worse. See, here’s the thing: some of those lil germs? They’re good for you! They help regulate things on the outside (and inside) of your body. I mean, hey, everybody’s big on probiotics to aid digestion right now, right? Gut flora is totally sexy in the crunchy world, but nobody seems to make the connection that maybe the stuff on the outside of the body could be OK too.
Today’s person desires to live in a strongly antiseptic world. Make me safe, keep the bad things away. But we don’t know if they’re bad or good. Kill em all, let triclosan sort them out is the battle cry. Meanwhile, we boost the strong germs and kill of our friendly forces germs in the name of cleanliness. Sure, it’s known that I am not the best housekeeper in the world, but maybe it’s OK if the world isn’t perfectly spotless, if not everything is in its right place all the time.
I mean, it’s that or we can all live in bubbles a few generations from now once we blow out all out immune systems. Exposure to bad things once in a while won’t kill you… usually. Never being exposed to anything bad until that one time? Now that might just do the trick.