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July 18, 2006
What Cotton Buds Say About Society
Writing about web page /cjehinds/entry/wrapped_up_in/
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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?