Your body is constantly sending and receiving countless numbers of chemical signals. The body, in essence, is a chemical computer and converter (but that isn’t all it is, of course). All while operating at a much higher efficiency than your computer, at a fraction (unless you have a low power machine, or are using a laptop) of the power usage (80 watts while sleeping, 120 standing). You’ve probably heard that before, to be honest… but most people don’t realize that bacteria ALSO communicate with chemical signals. This method of communication is called “quorum sensing”. Here’s a quote from Wikipedia:
Quorum sensing is a type of decision-making process used by decentralized groups to coordinate behavior. Many species of bacteria use quorum sensing to coordinate their gene expression according to the local density of their population. Similarly, some social insects use quorum sensing to make collective decisions about where to nest.
Bacteria and other micro-life are a lot more clever than we like to give them credit for. They’re hard to beat because since they live lives much faster than ours (more generations), they are basically capable of evolving faster… and this allows them to develop resistance to antibiotics. Using quorum sensing… we could, instead, (hive) “mind” control bacteria. We could cause them to self destruct, or who knows… maybe even switch sides and start working for, rather than against us.
I think it’s important to remember, however… that detrimental micro-life is the exception to the rule. Most human flora is beneficial or benign. Our bodies are filled with tiny organisms that are not only beneficial… they are integral! Without the human flora in your gut, you would be unable process food properly, which would lead to your demise. Bacteria are, generally speaking, our friends. We should not live in fear of them. That being said, let’s talk about soap:
…frequent hand washing with soap and antiseptics can cause chronic contact dermatitis. Damage to the skin can change the skin flora, resulting in more frequent colonization by staphylococci and gram-negative bacteria. Because alcohol-based sanitizers may be less irritating to the skin, their use may actually improve hand hygiene.
That’s the simple side of it all. Your skin is currently colonized by many species of organisms. Washing them away makes room for new ones to move in, and just like in an aging city, if you start to lower the quality of your “neighborhood”… you will see an increase in “crime”. Cracks in your skin left by too much hand washing (and, I think, too much hand sanitizer) basically leave you MORE vulnerable to infection. I’m a simple man. I think hand sanitizers have their place… like in a hospital… but that we shouldn’t just use them daily for no real reason. My motto is basically… the less chemicals I put on my body, the better.
( Also worthy of side-noting…. the advent and widespread use of soap changed something else within us. It eventually pushed away at least one “beneficial” (I used that term loosely here) organism that we used to carry. Too much of this organism can make you sick… but the proper balance will stop allergic reactions. Allergic reactions, though, are the product of living in a “clean” environment… and, generally speaking… are caused by dust mites. Dust mites live in your carpet and your bed, among other places. )
Without bacteria and fungi in the soil, plants have trouble growing and wastes have trouble breaking down. Fear and hate are not the answer… as with everything else in life… we cannot sustain our relationship in this way. The only way is through understanding and cooperation.