Only the Foolish Forsake Folding

by Mark Weber

As I sit and look out my window, I try to imagine the wonderful images of America shown to me by children's books, the "promised land," the America of Neil Diamond. Sadly, though, something is very, very wrong. Fortunately, I have pinpointed the problem and extracted a solution.

Think of your last trip to the bathroom. Isn't it an important, necessary experience, quite clearly an integral part of the human experience? Considering the amount of time we spend on the toilet, I'd say it plays a large role in shaping our character. At a young age, toiletizing is a formative experience. Freud realized this and made the "anal stage" on of his five major stages in an individual's development. Though there is little freedom of choice involved in most of this process, there is one major choice: the way we wipe.

Because so few people talk about it, most are hardly aware that there is a difference in the various ways of configuring the toilet paper for wiping. What's the difference? In a world of good and evil, folding is the glorious hero, riding a golden chariot, battling the demons of wadding and wrapping.

By the very nature of folding, it represents order and efficiency. The paper is orderly arranged, providing for maximum thickness and allows to be refolded again and again for further wipings. It can be handled very easily, and continued folding decreases the size and makes for easier disposal as well. The advantages are clear. Wrapping and wadding, on the other hand, are the antithesis of what folding hopes to accomplish. They represent laziness, wastefulness, and chaos. In choosing the style of wiping, you're choosing something about yourself.

To take it to a moral level, let's play with Kant's moral rule called the Categorical Imperative: would I want everybody else to choose the same as I choose? As Sartre would say, "In deciding for myself, I decide for man." What side would you pick? And for something that starts at so young an age and continues throughout life, the impact is profound.

But don't just take my word for it. In B. F. Skinner's utopian novel "Walden Two", while describing the practices of child-rearing, it states that "Folding was taught to the children and constantly reinforced."

Even in the not-quite-utopian community of Twin Oaks, folding is practiced by a large majority, an overwhelming 3 to 1. And when they found Hitler dead on the toilet, what else was he holding but a handful of wadded paper. Ah, humanity.

If you're going to wipe, do it the best way possible. If not for you, start your children off the right way. It's not even important that they understand why, so long as the correct habits are formed. I'll be waiting by my window for that better America.