July 18, 2006

What Cotton Buds Say About Society

Writing about web page /cjehinds/entry/wrapped_up_in/

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

I never thought I'd faith hope in something which resembles a mini version of a weapon from long deceased but oh–so–wonderful TV event Gladiators, but it struck me the other day that the humble cotton bud says a lot about society which makes me hopeful.

Ok, that might rank as one of the more bizarre introductions I've blogged, but there's a nice logic at work. The above article contains a discussion I hear from time to time about nannying states and interfering companies and labels on packets of nuts which read "warning: contains nuts". Basically Chris's article sums up how in the old days we just made mistakes and learnt from them rather than get told how not to die all the time. Now days everything seems more sanitised, the world being wrapped, as he says, in cotton wool…

…except when it isn't.

Cotton buds are a curious thing. All packets of them say the same thing these days – "do not insert into your ear canal". At first this seems like more annying but think about it, what else can you use them for? There are really no other practical use for them. Some packets claim to be makeup blenders which is a bit pointless. Others claim no function at all, just the products existence. Here's the thing, the manufacturers know that the only reason people buy them is to put them in their ears. The warning is a sop, a complete cop–out and is ignored by everyone, and everyone knows this is the case.

Putting things in your ears isn't always a good idea, of course. I know someone who had to have his ear syringed after years of drying his ears by sticking the corner of his towel in them, compressing the wax. Cotton buds can be used badly, you know when you've done so as your ear hurts like hell. But most people do that once and never do it again.

Why should I care (apart from my brain being fried from an 11 hour day in 33C heat?)? Because I have slightly more faith in humanity than most nanny state types seem to think. Most people will use those damn things in a sensible manner as they are clearly meant to be used. And none of them will die. And sure, some people will end up needing syringing but they won't need it twice. We learn from our mistakes.

So it's not quite at the stage where we need lawyers and politicians to tell us how not to die. Which is nice. So next time your ear's a bit mucky think how great it is to be able to be a bit naughty and ignore the warning. Just don't stick it in too far, ok?

- 33 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. You use them on the outer part of your ear, about as far as you could reach with your finger, the idea that you can get more bits out because it's narrower than a finger – more precise. If you try and shove them any further you're likely to make things worse by causing an ear infection. It's important to get rid of wax from your ears, but just don't be a idiot about it.

    18 Jul 2006, 23:35

  2. ok boss.

    19 Jul 2006, 00:11

  3. ok :–)

    19 Jul 2006, 00:12

  4. She's right you know.

    And let me tell you, it is embarassing when you turn up to the doctors with a cotton bud–related ear infection!

    19 Jul 2006, 09:23

  5. My cat eats cotton buds.

    19 Jul 2006, 09:30

  6. so do i

    19 Jul 2006, 15:17

  7. They were pretty useful to dip–and–dab calomine lotion on spots when I had chicken pox… no mess, longer reach, increased accuracy and efficient use of the lotion. Although, as I still have half a bottle left which cannot be used for anything else and since I should never get it again, that last point is pointless.

    19 Jul 2006, 15:57

  8. They use them in boxing matches don't they? When the fighters go to their corners at the end of the round there are about five people poking their eyebrows with cotton buds.

    I mean, WHAT IS THE DEAL WITH THAT (adopting hilarious imitation of an American standup) I mean, what the fuck?!

    19 Jul 2006, 19:41

  9. Apparently the buds compress the earwax leading to the need for syringeness anyway. The can pick up loads of crap though.
    Alternative use: Keyboard cleaning. Getting dust off the outside anyway. And for belly button.

    19 Jul 2006, 23:14

  10. Laura

    Also when painting your nails you can dab them with varnish remover to rectify little errors!

    20 Jul 2006, 10:17

  11. they're really satisfying is the point of them! i used to wake my brother up by ear raping him with cotton buds LOL

    20 Jul 2006, 11:47

  12. LOLZ

    20 Jul 2006, 14:27

  13. Vanessa

    I heard from the doctor that your ears have some sort of a self–cleaning mechanism. So there really isn't a need to stick a cotton bud in there. I do it mainly to get rid of water after a shower, and well, to clean my piercings.

    I just like they way some people call them Q–tips. Does it look like a "Q"??

    And it's hilarious that you guys are having a conversation about…well, erm, cotton buds.

    21 Jul 2006, 17:07

  14. I write crap, people discuss it. Welcome to Hollyzone.

    21 Jul 2006, 18:05

  15. vicki holmes

    hmmm you have an interesting argument, i can honestly say i've never ponderd this one before! hey hol! hope summer is wicked bee–atch! when are u back in the land of joy and flowers? x x

    21 Jul 2006, 19:16

  16. Does it look like a "Q"??

    From a certain angle it sort of does.

    And it's hilarious that you guys are having a conversation about
    …well, erm, cotton buds.

    As a matter of interest, why?

    21 Jul 2006, 19:45

  17. "Q–tips" is an example of an object being called by the brand name rather than object name (see "hoover" for vacuum cleaner).
    "Q–tip" was the main manufaacturer of cotton buds in the US. Sometimes when I call them Q–tips to an Englsih, they'll be like "wha the fuck are ye on aboot?

    21 Jul 2006, 20:23

  18. I resent being called an Englsih.

    22 Jul 2006, 00:31

  19. Also, "ye" is so sixteenth century.

    22 Jul 2006, 00:32

  20. …self–cleaning mechanism…

    Hence the need for people using cotton tips Q buds in the first place. And the need for syringing…

    22 Jul 2006, 11:02

  21. Errol

    I've never used cotton buds in my life, or had my ears syringed for that matter so I assume this must only be necessary if the self–cleaning mechanism breaks down.

    22 Jul 2006, 11:23

  22. I would quite like to have my ears syringed. I doubt there's much gunk in them but I've heard that once it's done you can hear everything in much sharper definition than before. Kind of like wearing glasses when you're really short sighted.

    22 Jul 2006, 13:48

  23. Sarah

    Yes, a friend of mine had his ears syringed and he said it was amazing how much better his hearing was but he was told that it had been necessary because his ears made too much wax, apparently some people make much more than others.

    22 Jul 2006, 15:16

  24. I syringed my ears on holiday the other year, I seem to get wax troubles because I swim underwater a lot, but a quick squirt of water cleans your ears out really well, certainly beats poking anything solid around in there. Observe mounds of wax in the sink that were previously clogging up your ears, and revel in the freshness of your audial canals.

    Well isn't this a delightful topic of conversation :)

    23 Jul 2006, 14:18

  25. Tomorrow I go to get hair cut, book eye test, and book syringygoodness.
    I shall be the six million widgepounds Widge!

    26 Jul 2006, 18:16

  26. Wolf from Galdiators exercises at my gym – fact.

    Also – cotton buds are good if you are crap at putting on mascara (you'd think after 10 years I'd have got the hang…)

    26 Jul 2006, 19:27

  27. Wolf is the best Gladiator.

    27 Jul 2006, 09:55

  28. Nick (24) – you can actually syringe your own ears? Is that sensible or wise?

    01 Aug 2006, 08:00

  29. mike

    i lost the hearing in 1 of my ears the over day and im going to the doctors to see bout it, i think its because i pushed the cotton bud too far in, but im not sure, any advice?

    21 Aug 2006, 20:51

  30. I think you've got the right idea in going to see the doctor. They know a lot about ears (I learned in a recent, non–cotton–bud–related, visit), more than I do. Sorry. Sounds nasty though, get well soon.

    21 Aug 2006, 23:02

  31. Casey – yes, it's certainly a lot less invasive to squirt some water in than it is to stick a plastic stick in there. No, that's not a euphemism!

    22 Aug 2006, 07:54

  32. Wolf is the uncle of someone I know on interwebs.

    I'm slightly paranoid about syringing my ears because I once got it done at the doctors and I had agonising earache for about a week. I'm also slightly paranoid about blood tests / giving blood because once I had a blood test and my arm got infected and I couldn't move it for weeks and it was all yellow and like death.

    I'm slightly concerned about the abilities of medical professionals. My ears get blocked very easily though, so perhaps I should look into syringing again.

    23 Aug 2006, 03:59

  33. anon

    Another tip for cotton buds. Cut them in half, stick a pin or narrow syringe tip into the end, then melt the plastic over the pin / syringe. You now have a dart which you can use as a blow dart. Get a pen or a hollow tube that fits just over the dart and uses as a blow dart. Very effective and cool. Use it to stick into the wall or other furniture. BTW this has nothing to do with ears so dont stick them in your ear.

    17 Sep 2006, 07:03

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