November 9, 2004 10:11 AM   Subscribe

Germs, Germs Everywhere... Get Over It "The makers of antibacterial products are fond of the word 'germs.' It is purposefully vague. Do they mean bacteria? Viruses? Both? Neither? Because the idea is simply to connote contamination. These products are as much about cooties as they are about viruses or bacteria."
posted by Irontom (16 comments total)
There's a nice taster of historical germ-paranoia here, the particular interest being the conflation of human and bacterial enemies: "During the First World War, sections of the British Press began to call the Germans ‘GermHuns’". See also Getting the dirt on germs.
posted by raygirvan at 10:38 AM on November 9, 2004

"I'm not a big fan that when I'm having dinner, and I'm eating, and I'm ready to pick up a roll or something, and a guy walks out of the bathroom [and] says, 'Mr. Trump, I'm a big fan of yours. Could I shake your hand?' Now the good news is, you don't eat the roll."

- The Donald
posted by caddis at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2004

No, antibacterial products are way worse than fears of cooties... if you "get" cooties at least it's over when you grow up. But the antibacterial soap/sponge/detergent/spray fad can actually breed drug-resistent strains of bacteria.

posted by rkent at 10:43 AM on November 9, 2004

Otherwise normal, healthy adults turn into total germ weenies come cold season in the office. We've got little bottles of that useless "anti-bacterial" hand gel all over the office from last season, courtesy of a well-meaning but misguided employee. If you get a cold, please do everyone a favor and just stay home.

can actually breed drug-resistent strains of bacteria

And that's the other half of it. Won't somebody please think of the children?
posted by uncleozzy at 11:09 AM on November 9, 2004

I avoid purchasing anything that is not specifically for use as an antiseptic that is labelled 'anti-bacterial'. Their marketing keeps my OCD-afflicted wife on the edge of hysteria. In lieu of a long, angry, and generally unproductive rant I will merely extend to those corporate bastards my middle-finger petard for hoisting purposes.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:11 AM on November 9, 2004

I second the hysteria - as an OCD sufferer myself, commercials about "contamination" and "germs" everywhere make me want to scream.
posted by agregoli at 11:31 AM on November 9, 2004

Interesting. I'm sure there's a link between this germ hunting madness non-sense and the amount of hallergies people have. Like a lot of people just don't get exposed to enough germs at a young age, when their himmune system is learning -- as a result, it overreacts all the time.

Germs used to (and still do) kill people. But we vastly solved the problem with the invention of soap (and its moderate use) and the realisation that if nobody poops in your drinking water, you'll be all right (and just wash your hands after you take a dump FGS.)
posted by NewBornHippy at 11:41 AM on November 9, 2004

Funny Cartoon.

The "Kid-Dip" made me laugh out loud. Sounds like something you'd serve at a cannibal cocktail party.
posted by jonmc at 11:46 AM on November 9, 2004

As an OCD sufferer myself, I find corporations trying to make a buck off my fears to be the real contaminants here. More on the antibacterial/allergy connection (emphasis mine):
... some researchers have found a correlation between too much hygiene and increased allergy. This hypothesis stems from studies that revealed an increased frequency of allergies, cases of asthma, and eczema in persons who have been raised in an environment overly protective against microorganisms. In one rural community, children who grew up on farms had fewer allergies than did their counterparts who did not live on farms.
posted by whatnot at 11:52 AM on November 9, 2004

Growing up, we were told germs weren't any big deal, and if something fell on the ground, we ate it anyway. The theory was that our immune systems would be the better for it. I don't know if it's genes or our trashy eating habits, but all six of us have been hella healthy for a half a century or so.
posted by kozad at 12:11 PM on November 9, 2004

Do you know how hard it is to find liquid hand soap that's not "anti-bacterial"? The choices are few and far between.
posted by MsVader at 12:40 PM on November 9, 2004

MsVader, look for "health food store" brands like Jason and Nature's Gate.
posted by D.C. at 1:19 PM on November 9, 2004

method soaps and cleaners are not antibacterial and smell real purty. I have seen them at Target and in some grocery stores.
posted by whatnot at 1:59 PM on November 9, 2004

Here in Canada, we can find Ivory and Jergens liquid soap without any antibacterial agents in any drugstore, but it takes some looking sometimes because almost every brand has a plethora of doped-up versions. Of course, soap and water alone create a suspension that pulls the bacteria off your hands and down the sink drain when you wash them. You don't need an active antibacterial agent at all.

That said, I bought some little alcohol based hand sanitizers when we went out to Sarsfest in Toronto in the summer of 2003. We expected the water supply near the porta-potties to be running short, and the wee bottles made sense at the time. We drank beer, ate barbeque, and gave our hands a preventative wipedown after every visit to the outhouses. And we didn't die.
posted by maudlin at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2004

what doesnt kill you, makes you stronger.
posted by sophist at 4:12 PM on November 10, 2004

what doesnt kill you, makes you stronger.

I know a parapalegic or two who might argue that one with you...
posted by Dark Messiah at 7:26 AM on November 11, 2004

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