A Telecommunications Revolution… In The Bathroom
In the 1950s television changed the American living room. In the 60s and 70s new developments in contraception and the sexual revolution changed the bedroom. Today, in the twenty-tens, technology is again changing our world and this time it’s in the bathroom.
If you thought the only telecommunication device in the bathroom was the big white porcelain telephone that your college buddies used to talk to “Oh, God!” after Friday night keggers then you’d be wrong. The smart-phone has permeated every nook and cranny of our lives and none more conspicuously than the bathroom.
Recent studies have shown that 75% of mobile phone users have used their phones in the bathroom. Of those using their phones in the bathroom 63% admitted to answering a call and 41 percent initiated a call before they, well, finished. 25% of guys and 13% of women have even been on conference calls in the bathroom. LBJ would have loved it. Lyndon Johnson was known for continuing high level meetings while he used the toilet. Given today’s wireless technology he might have given an entirely new meaning to the term “oval office”.
Communications isn’t the only thing that has moved to the bathroom. Entertainment options on the throne used to be limited to the Sears catalog, a few Chatelaine magazines and a Sports Illustrated if you were really really lucky. Now people are more likely to be surfing the Internet. According to the same survey 78% of those people that take their phone into the bathroom use it to surf the Internet, while 45% send and receive email. This was even more common at work where 12% of respondents reported feeling pressure to constantly stay on top of emails. Two-thirds of 18-24 year olds in the survey said they used social media while they were in the bathroom. Now you have time to update your mood to “constipated”.
Is all this going to make you sick? Depending on what lives in your bathroom, aerosolization is your major concern. Aerosolization, the process where tiny particles become airborne, happens during powerful toilet flushes. Director of clinical microbiology at Colombia, Dr. Phyllis Della-Latta, says don’t worry too much though. If you have a healthy immune system and clean your bathrooms regularly, you are extremely unlikely to become sick from bathroom pathogens. “Don’t be germaphobic”, she says, but adds, “no reading in public restrooms, period.” That might have as much to do with the mood of the people lined up out the door as with hygiene.
You might want to consider totting around some sanitary wipes though because the survey said that although 90% of people reported that they washed their hands after using the bathroom only 14% washed their phone after taking it to the bathroom. If this sounds familiar then maybe a flashy new bio hazard iPhone case is for you.