Offbeat Academia: Swine flu won’t sway skepticism

Despite the widespread viral threat, Sarah Sanders refuses to buy into the hype.

I’m kind of a dirty girl. I have this philosophy that if I’m just a little filthy most of the time, I can avoid disease. I believe the obsession surrounding antibacterial hand gel and showering every day is exactly what’s making everyone sick. My hair is short, simply so I don’t have to take care of it.

If you looked at me today, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I haven’t showered since the last issue. In fact, I purposely do not wash my hands after using the toilet (in public and private bathrooms) because I don’t see a good reason why I should. The toilet paper is folded enough times so that there is a dry barrier between my hand and my body.

I can already tell you’re not buying my philosophy. Well, I’m actually starting to doubt myself. With all this swine flu going around, I’m wondering about my own safety. It’s allergy season now, and I touch my face a lot, sniffling and itching. I touch it with the hands that touch everything else – the hands I don’t wash.

I hear the virus has hit Delaware now, so how much longer before it hits Filthadelphia? How much longer before I give into the antibacterial, cleanliness-is-next-to-Godliness paranoia?

Am I scaring you? This is scaring me. Some kid in class yesterday told me the pandemic level had just gone up. What does that mean? This kind of jargon is reminiscent of the war-on-terror days, when we were just waiting for our small town high schools to be blown to smithereens while we were eating lunch. Are we really in a period of panic, or is this another covert attempt at “uniting” the country through fear?

Maybe the government is just trying to scare me into the bathtub. Maybe swine flu
is just a big conspiracy meant to get me to start washing my hands like I learned to do in grade school. They want us to come clean and start acting right. We’re not children anymore. We know how to practice good hygiene. If we weren’t so dirty, we wouldn’t have to worry.

And what is the swine flu doing to those who keep clean? It’s driving them further and further apart from their loved ones. It’s isolating individuals so we don’t have connections anymore: no kissing, no holding hands, no touching of any kind and ultimately, no emotion. Imagine wearing facemasks while having sex with a stranger – that’s the future of romance.

You might say I’m getting carried away. Maybe you know me, and you’re still thinking about the last time you shook my hand. Regardless, how worried should we be? Think back to when President George W. Bush and his gang used to up the ante with terror threat alerts. How worried were we then?

You would do well to consider how much of the hype is real and how much of it is created by the media and the completely ignorant, clueless society we live in. It’s like that part in Men in Black when Tommy Lee Jones’ character says to Will Smith’s: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals, and you know it.”

Swine flu is our intergalactic alien.

Maybe I’ll be singing a different tune when swine flu catches up with me this summer, but right now, I remain faithful to my philosophy. Because of my dirty habits, I’m sure my body has built up a strong immunity to foreign contaminants. Plus, I drink orange juice like it’s water. So just relax. After all, it’s finals week, and your exams might kill you before swine flu does.

Sarah Sanders can be reached at


  1. people with the strongest immune systems are the most likely to die because their immune systems overreact, causing inflammation of the lungs. spare us the ridiculous isolation scenario and practice basic early 20th century hygiene at a bare minimum. if not for your own sake, then for ours. you are unreasonably jeopardizing the health of everyone else just so you can selfishly pursue a bizarre unhygienic lifestyle.

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