Spending Sabbath Thinking On The Can.

While others take pictures of their feces.

Robert Cormack
The Haven
Published in
4 min readApr 14, 2024


“Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably why so few engage in it.” Henry Ford

I’ve always been a fan of the digital sabbath, meaning I like having a day away from computers and phones. I find my most contemplative periods are actually sitting on the john. This is quality time dedicated to something that has to be done, anyway. Why not combine it with thinking?

These periods are particularly freeing — and also free. You could say ruminating on the toilet is a bargain. If we all thought like this, we’d have more ideas — and more toilets.

Sacrilege on the sabbath

Unfortunately, not everyone respects the digital sabbath — or johns, for that matter. Rather than use this time for thinking, a surprising number bring their mobile phones with them. In fact, according to a recent study by a bathroom supply company, not only did 44 percent of respondents admit to texting while defecating, 5 percent took pictures of their feces. (1)

Dubious hygiene

Well, there’s dubious and then there’s dubious. Handling a phone on the john isn’t going to be hygienic no matter what you do. What makes it worse is what happens during these “toilet swims.” Did you know that 1 in 5 women have dropped their phones in the can? Or that cell phones are 10 times dirtier than toilet seats (only one in seven Americans clean theirs).

Swipe and wipe

Texting, tweeting or talking on mobiles is so pervasive today, it’s not surprising we have toilet texters. Nobody’s embarrassed anymore, least of all Gen Zers. Over half admit that social media apps are fundamental to toilet time. One in ten use it for dating. One in three women own up to sending a snap from the bathroom.

Are we losing it in the loo?

Imagine what we’re losing by toilet texting and lewd looing. Since time immemorial, famous thoughts and discoveries could be claimed on the john, including Beethoven writing parts of symphonies, and J.K. Rowling adding a chapter to her Harry Potter series. By comparison, our own toilet moments don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Bring back the sabbath

It wouldn’t hurt any of us to respect the digital sabbath more. Imagine if we put down our phones, and concentrated instead on, say, our finances. Did you know that for every dollar we earn, we owe a dollar fifty? That’s the debt level today. It might even be more, but you wouldn’t know. Not if you’re busy commenting on your latest Starbucks coffee or if Donald Trump is a weenie.

How to stop dumbing yourself down

Many neurologists believe brain function improves with exercise. I’m convinced anything that doesn’t involve texting, tweeting or photographing your feces will do the same. Have you ever stood up from the toilet and felt dizzy? That’s your brain telling you it’s spent the last twenty minutes in agonizing monotony. One day it’ll reward you with many dizzy spells and extended forgetfulness. You’ll call it getting old. Your brain will call it revenge for you being a dimwit.

You’re not alone (that should depress you)

Did you know that 40 percent of Americans have set the toilet mood with smartphone music? (2) I’m not against music or mood in the washroom, but when it’s mandatory—and you can’t get your business done without it—I have to question what you can do without some form of distraction.

Here’s the good news

If 49 percent of men and 32 percent of women admit to being heavy toilet texters (meaning every time), you could have a leg up on them by not using your phone. Say you spend that fifteen minutes doing a crossword or sudoku instead. Your brain is happy, you get rewarded with — get this — lucidity. Eventually, you’ll have a lot more lucidity, while many of your cohorts will have fecal photos.

Sounds like a good deal to me.

Frankly, fecal photos are pretty weenie.

So’s Starbucks, for that matter.

1 Survey of 1,000 people (ages 16 to 74, from the US and UK)

2 bankmycell survey of 2,114 people (US), updated, March 05, 2024



Robert Cormack
The Haven

I did a poor imitation of Don Draper for 40 years before writing my first novel. I'm currently in the final stages of a children's book. Lucky me.