With every addiction, there’s a recognition moment. Maybe it’s 10am and you’re cracking open a bottle of Stella; maybe you’re lighting one cigarette off of another; maybe you have replaced the bread in your sandwiches for potato waffles. Whether it’s food, alcohol, cigarettes or technology, everyone has that moment where you look at your behaviour and think: wow, is this really what I’m doing now?
That moment come for many of us, I think, when we realise that we’re one of the 75 per cent of people who use their phone on the toilet. Come on, now: there’s no use being shy about it. Who hasn’t had a little browse on their Instagram in the work loo? Plus, when your computer screen faces the whole office, it can be incredibly freeing to just take a couple of minutes to wee and rearrange your ASOS basket. This is your “me” time, and if you want to tweet while defecating, that is absolutely your business!
Take a step back: this is that moment we talked about earlier. It’s easy to rationalise why you’re doing the thing you’re doing – I need fridge space for the milk! I simply must drink this Stella at 10am! – but sometimes, you need to reassess the thing from an outsider’s perspective. Do you really need to take your phone to the toilet? Doesn’t it strike you as strange that, during the most private and intimate moment of your day, you’re choosing to spend it with thousands of strangers, however silently?
Ok, so maybe this isn’t the most delicate topic in the world to bring up in a blog post, but it calls up some incredibly interesting questions about how we’ve started to conflate ‘private time’ with public time. Increasingly, the time we used to spend staring into space is being replaced by scrolling, liking and responding. We convince ourselves that it’s a few harmless minutes to unwind, when in reality, our brains are exhausting themselves trying to keep up with the constant information.
Aside from what toilet texting is doing to our brains, we have to truly consider what it could be doing to our health. Think about it: you wash your hands right after using the toilet, but you don’t ever wash your screen. The bacteria that forms on your hands sticks to your phone screen, accumulating in the tiny crevices of your device.
“There are water and air particles that harbour in the little creases of the phone,’ says Dr Anchita Karmakar, a GP based in Australia. “And phone covers and cases are usually made out of rubber, which is a warm and comfortable harbouring ground for bacteria.”
This leaves us vulnerable to salmonella, E.coli, and a whole list of bacteria that has the potential to make us very sick. And that’s just the viral side of things: the strain of sitting there for those extra minutes can also result in piles.