A recent video by Scott Adams featured a guest who opened by saying:
“The coronavirus is going to push us to do things we should probably already be doing as a society. Firstly we do need to practise higher and higher levels of hygiene in this interconnected world. Who doesn’t want to be cleaner all the time. Everybody I’ve ever met wants to be cleaner. Everybody admires people who are cleaner than them..Everyone likes going to places that are super-clean.”
Listening to this, I found myself completely disagreeing with everything he said. And also thinking that the guy was almost certainly a virulent antismoker.
Aren’t antismokers obsessed with hygiene? Don’t they want everything to be cleaner? Don’t they want everything to be super-clean?
Before the 2011 Spanish smoking ban, the Barcelona district of Esplugues de Llobregat had numerous smoking bars and a handful of non-smoking bars. All the non-smoking bars were super-clean. And they were also soulless. It was the quirky little smoking bars that had soul, and that I loved to spend time in.
I don’t like super-clean places. And I don’t like super-clean people. I like people that have lived a bit, and places that have been lived in, that are a bit worn, a bit faded, a bit aged. I like bars that have a dog curled up in the doorway, and faded posters on the walls, and half-empty ashtrays. I’m instantly at home in those kinds of places. And never at home in super-clean places where I never feel welcome, never feel accepted, because super-cleanliness is highly demanding, and highly unforgiving.
And why should we “practise higher and higher levels of hygiene in this interconnected world”? The interconnectedness is largely electronic, and it allows us to live disconnected lives. When I was working as a computer software engineer, I used to mostly work at home. How much more disconnected can you get? If anything, the more we’re electronically connected, and physically disconnected, the less the need for higher levels of cleanliness and hygiene.
It all reminded me of Dr W ranting about the “filthy, filthy, filthy” habit of smoking. Perhaps the real divide between smokers and antismokers is between the dirty and the clean. The dirty (in the sense of ‘getting down and dirty’) is always much more alluring than the uptight super-clean.
And super-clean people must see dirt everywhere. After all, the natural world is essentially a dirty world. It’s covered in mud and soil and sand and dust. A pristine white beach is made up of a graveyard of broken shells, and the blue sea beyond it is laden with salt and sand and countless other chemicals. The natural world is an unclean world. And super-clean, hygienic places are artificial places, and unnatural places.
So the difference between smokers and antismokers is the difference between the natural and the artificial. And it takes a lot of work to keep places artificially clean. And no work at all to make them natural.
Just passing thoughts prompted by something some guy said.