Working theory is: the last time anyone took a shit without Instagram was somewhere around 2011, 2012. It is curious how the app has changed: at first we just used it to tint and degrade digital photographs so they went sort of purple-orange and aesthetic, and now the app exists for either flirting or as a shitting companion, or sometimes both. The net upshot of this is: your phone – the one you are holding in your hand, or at least have within your line of sight – your phone is covered, smeared, in granular particles of shit and the bacteria associated with it. Welcome to the future! The future's good, isn't it!
Anyway: you have known this for a while, the shit thing. For whatever reason, the accepted form of filth measurement is a toilet seat (1 toilet seat = 1 unit of filth) (which is a bit of a misnomer: chopping boards are technically dirtier than toilet seats in terms of the home, but toilet seats just have a dirty vibe), and for a while you have known that your smartphone and your laptop keyboard are at least one or two toilets each (or 1–2 Ts., if you want) in terms of dirt. This has never stopped you. But now the news is that your phone could be the equivalent of three toilet seats (3 Ts.), and that isn’t going to stop you, either.
The average smartphone screen is more than three times dirtier than a toilet seat, according to recent research.
Gadget insurance specialists Insurance2go swabbed three different handsets – an iPhone 6, Samsung Galaxy S8 and Google Pixel – to find out how much bacteria each accumulated.
They found quantities of yeast, mould and aerobic bacteria in all areas of the phones. Which isn’t surprising when you realise the average Brit touches their phone screen 3,000 times a day.
— Metro, August 20 2018
Here are some pictures of mould and stuff:
And here’s a faceless company quote saying you’ve got all shit on your phone:
"Our testing found that smartphone screens harboured the highest amount of bacteria, yeast and mould, with 254.9 units of infection present per cm2,” the company said.
“The smartphone screens tested were over ten times more infected than a toilet seat and flush,” said Insurance2go. “Bad news considering we press our phone screens against our faces.”
— Metro, &c.
Do I like the idea of yeast? No, I do not. Do I like the idea of shit spores smeared all over the thing I touch the most each and every day? Also no. Sometimes I just idly touch my phone with the tips of my fingers, a sort of tic, because the sensation of the cold smooth phone on my nail beds is curiously soothing to me. Every morning I wake up and look at my phone first of all. Last thing I look at at night before bed? Phone. I look at my phone while I’m watching TV, which sometimes means I actually have to rewind the thing I’m watching when I’ve missed a crucial moment because I’m looking at Fortnite memes on Instagram, and it turns out all of those touches – every tap, every scroll, every alarm set – that’s actually just me taking my fingers, my precious, precious fingers, and just rubbing them along three toilet seats at once. It's like looking at my texts on a urinal. The reality: if I could scroll through selfies on a toilet seat I probably would. I am addicted to the buzz of looking at meal plans on Instagram and am willing to plunge my hands into a pit of hell to continue it.
Anyway, the solution, broadly, is this: clean your phone. The Insurance2go poll also found that only one in 20 adults clean their phone every six months or less, and the rest of us are just walking around pressing toilet seats against our faces. A soft cloth and a little spray of rubbing alcohol solution over the screen and the yeasty back once a week should do it (or you can do what Jeremy Kyle does, and lick your phone clean, like a kindly but mad cow tenderly brushing the amalgam off a calf after it is born).
You're not going to do it, though, are you? Let’s be honest. You’ll maybe do it once. You’ll possibly read this and run a wet wipe over the screen, maybe. But fundamentally you will go back to your toilet life, with your toilet phone, looking at both on the toilet. We laugh at lads in the Middle Ages for being squalid enough to get Black Plague, but look at us. Here, in the future, with our special little pocket devices that we carry around, covered in all yeast and shit. Have we ever really progressed at all. Have we ever! Really progressed! At all!
This article originally appeared on VICE UK.