Atlantic Cities
Toilet Tuesday

A Startling Number of Americans Use Social Media in the Toilet

A Startling Number of Americans Use Social Media in the Toilet
George Dolgikh/Shutterstock

This Toilet Tuesday is best experienced on a waterproof mobile device:

TOILET TWEETING ON THE RISE

Few things are more infuriating than waiting to use a public restroom because the current occupant is cooking a ham inside (or whatever it is that's taking forever). But the next time you're in loo limbo, know that your bladder pain is not for nothing: The person barricaded behind the door is probably making *very important* updates to Twitter and Facebook accounts.

That's the annoying conclusion of a recent survey indicating nearly one-third of young Americans use social media in the bathroom. After querying 200,000 Internet users, media-research companies Nielsen and NM Incite found that 32 percent of people aged 18 to 24 use the call of nature as an opportunity to call up their social networks. Old fogies – otherwise known as people between 35 and 44 – did so less frequently, with only 15 percent of respondents admitting to shameful acts like "friending" an old church acquaintance while defecating.

Toilet-based tweeting is likely to increase in the future, the survey suggests, as 37 percent more Americans are using social-networking sites this year than in 2011. Deirdre Bannon, a vice president of "social-media solutions" at NM Incite, described the findings in what I like to think was a tone of utter disdain but no doubt wasn't: "Social media is truly everywhere in people's lives.... We are literally taking our phones with us to the bathroom and connecting on social media."

A STARTLING GENDER GAP IN PUBLIC-BATHROOM ANXIETY

The lines outside women's bathrooms are often abysmally long. But did you know that men find using public facilities more stressful?

So says University of London researcher Sarah Moore, author of the 2012 British Journal of Criminology paper "Spaces of Male Fear: The Sexual Politics of Being Watched." After an intensive undercover operation and focus groups, Moore concluded that behind the all-business milieu of England's public lavatories was high-tension psychosis and explosive rage. "For women, public toilets are often convivial places, offering up the possibility to make friends and socialise," the study explained. "But for males, the most significant problem was the co-presence of other men and the possibility of violence if a breach of toilet etiquette occurred."

Moore turned up men who became such nervous wrecks in shared bathrooms that they were unable to complete their biological prerogative. What are these perceived "breaches" everyone's stressed about? Making eye contact is one: It could suggest you're a voyeuristic sketchball. According to the Daily Star, Moore's research has uncovered three "unwritten laws of the loo." They are:

NEVER catch ­someone else’s eye.

NEVER draw ­attention to yourself.

NEVER squeeze in next to someone else – unless it is the last space available.

SCOOP!

Have you ever used the toilet but then forgotten how to dispose of the waste inside? Quick, give a call to the corporate "help desk" at CQ Roll Call. They are really, really good about conveying proper flushing procedures.

According to a memo obtained by Media Bistro, the brass at the esteemed congressional-news outlet are concerned that employees are harming "very expensive toilet flushing valves." The problem is that some people are flushing the toilets with their feet, either to avoid germs or to train for a high-octane soccer match (I'm looking at you, Morton Kondracke). Here's the memo:

Please do not kick the toilet handle, or even use your feet, to flush the toilet. This notice is being sent because Brookfield has had to replace very expensive toilet flushing valves on the 7th floor due to misuse. I would like to take this time to remind staff that the flush valves in the restrooms are not designed to be flushed with your feet. Using your feet can/will damage the flush valve resulting in expensive repairs. If you do not want to touch the toilet handle, please use toilet paper, paper towels, etc., but not your feet. If you have questions, or would like more detail, please feel free to let us know.

Top photo courtesy of George Dolgikh on Shutterstock.

John Metcalfe is a staff writer at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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