*Just for reference, this post was written sometime back in February when Alex first uploaded his video. However, I’ve gone through and edited it to sound current and really just confuse the heck out of you.*
Alex Day (or Nerimon) is a twenty-something British kid who has a substantial following on Youtube, makes music about Doctor Who, other various nerdy things he likes, and sentimental crushes (which are probably pretty nerdy as well). He once recorded videos of himself reading Twilight, which I still rewatch from time to time just for the lolz.
I’m not an avid Youtubist like I used to be, and NO, I am not going to tell you where to find my channel, to which I’ve not uploaded in several years, but Alex is one of the maybe two Youtubers whose videos I watch bi-monthly or so in their entirety. They’re pretty entertaining.
A few months ago I watched a video (below), in which he counts all of the things he owns, supposing that they amount to less than 100 things. And they DID. I think altogether he got up to 72. Which is amazing (go Alex) but not the point.
The point is that Alex mentioned (in passing!!!) that he doesn’t use soap, shampoo or deodorant. He linked to this article by Sean Bonner as an explanation. (That article is his result/follow-up. Here is his initial post on the subject.)
REASONS I WENT ASDJKADFH;OMG!!!:
1. Alex mentioned it, made a conciliatory explanation for trolls and persons too lazy to Google search, and moved on.
This amazes me because I primarily spend my time on the internet annoying the majority of the friends, and relatives and strangers and furries and bots I encounter, much in the manner of the Lorax, about my environmental and health concerns. Most of which are depressing as hell. People don’t like to be depressed, and they don’t like inconvenience. Most of the things I do now, or recommend, started out crazy inconvenient. They require lifestyle changes. Lecturing and judging and criticism does not win people over. Positivity, self-confidence, positive results, and leading by example win people over. All of these things are present in the sort of indifferent way the subject is addressed.
2. He has never mentioned being a particularly avid environmental advocate or holistic hygiene purist/crazy smelly hippie.
The human brain likes comfort, and comfort is produced by experiencing the familiar: familiar thoughts, images, feelings. When the human brain encounters something unfamiliar that deviates from the experiential evidence it has compiled since the inception of its existence, it totally freaks out. This concept is the basis of a lot of philosophical and sociological theories, which I kind of condense in my mind by referring to the Self vs. the Other. I won’t get to into it, but it’s a basic defensive function of the mind to adhere to learned behaviors, such as using soap, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizers, deodorant, and the like, and reject behaviors that are different. Like not wearing deodorant. Or for women, not shaving one’s underarms.
This is best illustrated in American culture, for example, with the idea that if there is something lacking in your appearance, the best way to fix this is to go buy something. Hair’s oily? You need dry shampoo, hair sprays. Wash it everysingleday. Don’t condition roots or scalp. Buy a special “lightweight” conditioner that won’t weigh your hair down. But to be sure, buy the rest of the product line, because some of those deep conditioners, hairsprays, and texturizers are so heavy. Skin’s dry? Switch to a moisturizing soap, or body wash with special creamy beads in it, expensive lotion with soy, or honey, or oats, or milk proteins.
What I’m getting at is that the consumer culture is accepted in such a widespread manner, that if anyone deviates from this, this person is faced with skepticism, distrust, and sometimes animosity. Granted, sometimes it is deserved, but I’ll go out on a limb and claim that’s an exception and not the rule for most well-meaning people (not the arch, holier-than-thou hippie-crites).
It’s really really rare to introduce an idea about your way of life and be met with genuine, frank, open curiosity if you’re a big showy d-bag about it. Or, especially, if you’re a broken record. My friends (mostly) all know about my wild pura vida proclivities. The shiny newness of my novelty lifestyle wears off, or is just too alien and inconvenient to ask about. So I don’t bring it up. I don’t advertise (please pretend I do not own this site or a Facebook page or a twitter account so I can prove this point). I am mysterious and full of surprises. People like that.
Alex, having never (to my knowledge) previously broadcasted a penchant for alternative hygiene decisions on his Youtube channel, aligns with what western (European & North American, in a very general sense) culture perceives as the norm. He does not violate the familiarity of the self. And so, regardless of whether Alex is deliberately leading a no-waste, minimalist lifestyle, or these are just simple lifestyle choices he makes occasionally and doesn’t mention for one reason or another, he is a normal, likeable guy (relative to his viewership; I wish nerdfighters were a cultural norm). Which leads me to my next point.
3. He has over 500,000 subscribers, and the video itself had 177,000 plus views when I watched it on Feb. 27th (It’s at 232k today the 19th).
This means that regardless of their reactions and the opinions they formed afterward, 177k plus people were shown a non-aggressive, non-threatening example of an alternative lifestyle. One which I will freely admit I consider to be superior to the one I used to live. That’s so many people. Granted, of that number, some are bound to be multiples, some are bound to be people who clicked it closed and weren’t paying attention anyway, and some probably won’t ever give it a second thought because they found the idea too foreign or simply undesirable. But some of them will think about it. Like me, I’m sure a number of people read that article and are considering giving it a try. That thought, that even if only twenty, or ten, or even 5 people are thinking about emulating Alex’s lifestyle makes me so, so incredibly hopeful, because:
4. I just think it’s really fucking cool.
I haven’t entirely given up soap*, or deodorant, and the fact that as a big old preachy McPreacherson I can look up to the lifestyle of someone who, albeit cool, is probably less crazy/extreme in his ideals than I am makes me hope that all over the world, from the suburban cities of middle America to the trend-a-minute urban centers (coughLAcough) people are quietly and humbly using less, simplifying, and ultimately living healthier lives. And, you know, not forgetting to be awesome.
Here is Alex’s video:
*I haven’t used soap since, really. But that’s another (positive) story.
I guess you never know where good faith will find you! Pura vida!