David Moseley

Humans: gullible or just doff?

2012-03-27 13:40

David Moseley

I refer specifically to the dishwashing liquids and household disinfectants because I only recently noticed the wide variety of similarity we’re presented with when shopping.

For many manly years a good, green bottle of Sunlight liquid was a more than adequate ally in the fight against household grime. Dishes, stove, floor, windows, bathroom, dodgy sleepovers… just a wee squirt of the slippery stuff and all was lemony-fresh… maybe even clean enough to eat off. What more could you possibly need to sanitise a household? An ocean of brightly packaged bleaches and stain removers, it seems.

When Robyn sent me to the shops alone last week I was entrusted to bring back various cleaning products and bug killers. I calmly assured her that the A4-size list was unnecessary, pointing out that it was unlikely so many varieties of bleach existed.

Well, knock me down with a bottle of JIK and call me Gladys, because wasn’t I shocked to discover that the colours, flavours, scents and poisons available in the household cleaning aisle are wider and more varied than a politician’s inventory of retarded comments.

To kill a mocking ant

I discovered mould-blaster bleach, drain-blocker bleach, shirt-whitening bleach, kitchen-sink cleaning bleach, window-washing stuff that gleamed, sheen or glistened depending on the fruit or vegetable infusion, ant killing spray, fly killing spray, pellets that are perfect for exterminating American (morbidly obese?) cockroaches and German (bailing out other, financially ruined?) cockroaches.

It was mind-boggling. Confused, and yet disturbingly excited, I packed my trolley with enough domestic chemicals to successfully invade (and zestily clean) South Africa’s neighbouring countries.

When I got home, worrying realisations dawned. Firstly, supermarkets really should have some kind of government security at the tills. The number of skull and crossbones on my purchases probably indicates that I shouldn’t be buying more than two types of disinfectant or bug killer at a time. Secondly, and more importantly, I’d been duped.

A cleansing ruse

I may be horribly unscientific, but surely if something can kill a German and American cockroach, it can kill a simple, country-neutral ant. And if one ginger-infused bleach can get your greased-over stove to glisten, then mildew in the shower probably doesn’t stand much of a chance either.

It’s not just cleaning products where we’re bombarded with strikingly similar “uniqueness”. Browsing a popular sunglass manufacturer’s website, a colleague pointed out that this particular brand not only produced an “Asian fit” product, “designed to compliment Asian facial anatomy in both fit and comfort”, but also had about 20 variations on the same model. Come on now. You can’t be serious.

From running shoes to bikes to caps to bars of soap, almost every day we choose something similar because it’s different. Or we buy too much because we’re told we need it. And we fall for it. That can mean only one of two things; we’re either incredibly doff, or the most gullible animal planet.

Seriously, even your dog or cat will only stroll over a few times when you pretend to have food, before eventually catching on to the ruse and going back to sleep. Humans? We’re just suckers for punishment. And choice.

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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