- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 11, 2019

Just when you think we’d had all the ice cream tub lickers we could stand, here comes a tongue depressor licker.

Seriously, all this product licking is simply a sign of a self-absorbed, selfie-star obsessed sick nation.

Did you hear about this Jacksonville, Florida, medical office girl?

A girl on a video taken from Snapchat and shared on First Coast News grabbed a tongue depressor at a doctor’s office in Florida, gave it a quick lick, then put it back in the canister. Her accomplice, the one holding the camera, meanwhile, points to a sign by the canister that reads, “Please do not touch medical supplies! Thank you,” as Fox News reported.

Funny stuff.

Especially the caption — “Don’t tell me how to live my life.”

The incident comes after several lickers targeted Blue Bell Creameries, forcing the company into a public relations’ defense mode — and into somewhat of a financial shock, forced as it was to recall its product. First, a girl in Walmart was recorded licking the top of a tub of Blue Bell ice cream, then placing it back into the freezer’s for-sale section. Then a San Antonio teenager and Louisiana man were arrested for similarly tampering with Blue Bell products.

“I cannot imagine how these videos would not affect buying decisions and consumer confidence during the middle of ice cream season,” said Utpal Dholakia, a Rice University business and marketing professor, in the Houston Chronicle.

Quite right.

Would you buy Blue Bell? There you have it.

But the bigger question is — why? Why the licking nonsense in the first place?

And on that, here’s a thought: If there were no such thing as selfies, there probably wouldn’t be as many of these sick product lickers out there.

They feed off the video. They grab a thrill from the notoriety. They get a quick shot of social media fame — the likes, the shares, the smiley faces, the attention — and bam, there’s their fill of self-esteem for the week.

They don’t accomplish much in life. So they rely on the fake-ness of social media to create a stir they can point to as substitute accomplishment.

Fact is, if social media weren’t so targeted toward the lowest common denominator — the low achievers who think, say, 1,000 likes is akin to creation and achievement and production of something ingenious, or necessary, or even wanted and desired — then product licking wouldn’t be a thing.

It couldn’t be.

The low levels wouldn’t have any place to showcase their low-level deeds. The selfie-star seekers wouldn’t have an audience to cheer their moronic behaviors.

But here we are. And there America is. And sadly, the best solution is to build a better container with a tighter, tamper-resistant top.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter @ckchumley.

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