BzzAgent sent me yet another lovely brown box. In the past, they have send me such immensely pleasant freebies as a boxful of bite sized Take Five bars before they came out and an electric toothbrush that Emily still uses. I tend to prefer the physical items, though sometimes they only need my services to review a bit of software or a website. I enjoy these less, because I cannot put them in my mouth, but try them out anyway. Sometimes, as with Gather.com, I am genuinely interested. Sometimes, as with a Firefox extension or an overpriced and bloated program that performed the same function as a five-dollar flash drive, I am less wowed.
The latest box contained a white plastic tower, a sanitizer for the aforementioned Sonicare toothbrushes Emily and I both use. I was initially apprehensive, because the head of mine is bigger and thicker (oh, get your minds out of the gutter!) and I imagined that it was designed mostly for the more petite one Emily uses. Surprisingly, they both fit very well in the futuristic silver plastic interior. Once closed, I imagined that the brush heads would be teleported to the trash and new, cleaner brush heads would materialize in their place.
"So what do we do now?" Emily asked in a conversation that only mostly happened.
"I push this little aqua button and millions of tiny elves clean the brush heads."
"No, for real. No water goes in. How is this actually getting them clean?"
I look at the light glowing behind a blue screen. "It isn't getting them clean as much as sanitized."
"So your brush head will still be cruddy, just all the germs will be dead?"
I look over the packet BzzAgent sent me. "The UV light kills 99% of certain bacteria and viruses."
"UV like sunlight?"
"Yes, the UV light is like sunlight, I would think." I look through the tiny opaque window again. "Cleaner, purer light. Less full of the bugs and dust inherent in real sunlight."
"So we are basically giving our toothbrushes a deep tropical tan?"
The image of my toothbrush wearing tiny sunglasses will haunt me, of this I am sure. "Yes. This is like a little vacation for them on the shores of lake Sonicare, which borders on the Adriatic Sea."
She taps on the sanitizer. "This won't actually make them clean, though? They will be as dirty as before, but with the added benefit of a trip through an EZBake Oven?"
"Technically true, but you don't want to be putting e. coli or h. simplex in your mouth."
She suddenly seems interested in my speech. "'H. Simplex? This thing kills the herp?"
"Herpes riddled people should spend more time in direct sunlight," she smiles. "Then they'd turn to dust."
I stifle a laugh. "You are thinking of vampires."
Overall, I think the sanitizer exists mostly for psychological benefit. I certainly won't know that the bacteria is now dead, but I will believe that my mouth is somehow cleaner despite still being frighteningly lousy with bacteria. It is a bit like Pascal's Wager: would I rather believe that my brush head is less germ-filled and in actuality be no better off than I was before getting my Sonicare UV Sanitizer or not use it and be brushing my teeth with e. coli that came from particles of toilet water in the air?
Given that human beings carry more bacterial DNA than human DNA, one doesn't want to take sides too hastily, but I think I will take out any herpes and s. mutans I can before the bacterial insurrection begins. If it is worth the $50 suggested retail value at places like Target, Amazon.com, and Walgreens for the peace of mind that mass germicide brings you is really up to the individual consumer. When making your decision, just remember that humankind gave you symphonies and bacteria gave you the bubonic plague.
For more information, check out germshappen.com.