MARCH 5, 2008

Society has made me afraid of germs
       How many times have you washed your hands today? This may sound odd but the idea for this column just came to me in the bathroom.
       Yes, I washed my hands when I was done. I also washed them this morning before making breakfast. Itís almost lunchtime so Iím going to wash them again. Tonight after brushing the dog Iím going to wash them again. Before I wash my face at bedtime Iím going to wash them again.
       There, I should be OK, right? Yes and no. By now we know that itís not a good thing to constantly clean your hands. Using sanitizer too often can be unhealthy. Washing with anti-bacterial soap too often is bad. But then again, touching public doorknobs is bad, faucets in public washrooms is bad.
       Am I the only one that society is turning into a germophobe?
       As a teenager, Iíll admit it, I never washed my hands. It seemed like a chore because mom would always ask if Iíd done it.
       I would play in the mud, put my fingers in my mouth, go to the bathroom and all the other things kids are never supposed to do without washing their hands after. Strangely, it didnít seem to affect me in terms of sickness or disease. Why does it bother me now?
       Now I have soap at the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, hand sanitizer at my desk, in the car. Maybe not caring about the possibility of being in contact with germs is less harmful than being overly cautious.
       Weíre made to feel paranoid about contracting an illness and weíre told to sanitize and wash, yet on the flip side of this, weíre told not to do it too often. How often is too often? If we know a doorknob, sink or something else in public has germs, how can we not want to clean ourselves after?
       Now if youíll excuse me, I have to spray down my desk and lay plastic on my keyboard.

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