From sharing toothpaste to wiping my poorly son's brow, true human intimacy inevitably involves a bit of grimeby Caspar Salmon / March 11, 2020 / Leave a comment
It was only to be expected that, following the handwashing recommendations made by all health organisations and governments worldwide to combat Covid-19, the clucking scolds who make up Lifestyle & Cleanliness Twitter would have a field day.
To explain: the social website has its own little corners and subsets. Football Twitter, philosophy Twitter, pornography Twitter; I gather Tory Twitter is even a thing. These groups of like-minded people form relatively organically and make the site their own by sharing in-jokes and developing a common history, a common language even.
And one of the more resilient, and somehow popular demographics to exist on this website famous for the free exchange of inane opinions is what might also be termed “Health and Sanitation Twitter.”
Here, forbidding persons with presumably pristine bedrooms will generate long conversations by holding forth on such scintillating topics as “how many towels you must own” or “how often you should change your sheets,” or “are you drinking water?” (a hardy favourite). A deathless topic in recent years has been the discovery that there is a hardcore of people who don’t actively wash their legs in the shower, preferring instead to prioritise other, more obviously dirty body parts and let the soapy water trickle down their pins. Social media is apparently still reeling from this revelation, which can be said to have birthed a whole generation of lifestyle opiners.
These people, who earnestly intone every now and then that it’s important to moisturise must know—surely they must—that it isn’t, really. Few things could be less important. But the crucial thing is never to let slip the pretence that this stuff is paramount.
Perhaps a fear of death—of becoming dust or soil oneself—is at play here. The documentary The Disappearance of My Mother, currently in cinemas, shows the ex-model Benedetta Barzini as an older woman attempting to retreat from a universe of femininity and appearances. Barzini wishes to flee the world’s expectations of her as a mother and beautiful person. In one of the university lectures she gives, she asks why we idolise youth, suggesting that it stems from a fear of annihilation. She seems to be willing herself to deteriorate: her skin bears the traces of a lifetime of cigarette…