Have you tried not touching your face for an extended period of time?
I mean, how difficult could it be, right? Well, it isn’t as easy as it sounds. But allow me to first give you the context. Coronavirus is, of course, the context for most of what you’re reading and we’re writing nowadays, but this is how my ‘challenge’ began. How often do you think you touch your face in a day, a colleague recently asked me. About 200-250 times, I answered in a rather questioning tone, like I was asking him if that was the ballpark he was looking for. Ten times of that mate, at least ten times of that, he said. Really?
Since I wasn’t sure, I decided to investigate (fine, I Googled it). I found out what Kate Winslet (playing Dr Erin Mears) said in Contagion, the 2011 movie about a pandemic that eerily resembles the Covid-19. “The average person touches their face 2,000 to 3,000 times a day, 3-5 times a minute!” There was no scientific study I found that conclusively proves that (well, not on the first Google results page anyway) but then, who am I to argue with the script of a movie that made over $135 million at the box office.
The point is that, as expert after expert has tirelessly told us over the past few weeks, hands – specifically, unwashed hands – are integral to the spread of infection. We get it. Hand hygiene is extremely important, and one mustn’t touch one’s face (eyes, nose and mouth) to avoid the respiratory viruses making their way into one’s body. But how long can you go without touching your face: 5 minutes? 10? Can you go for 30 minutes? My record: 6 minutes and some seconds. I know, I know, but why don’t you try it and tell me how long can you go? Let’s start this #FaceOff challenge where the person who goes the longest without touching their face wins. What does s/he win? Their health, of course.
PS: Now that we’re told that even the freshly famous N95 face mask is practically useless for normal folk, maybe it’s time to focus on gloves – made of rough, prickly material – that discourage us from touching our face.