It used to be people were grateful just to find a humidifier. Their throat was dry, or their kid was sick, so they went to a drug store or a hardware store and were thrilled to find any old model. They didn’t care that Honeywells leaked or that Vickses were weirdly small. These people needed a humidifier and bought one and threw it out after it started to smell.
And I was happy to be one of the bunch. I was machine-washable, or at least some of my parts were. And it took a little bit longer for me to smell.
But then Thom and Tim—the “humidifier experts” over at Wirecutter—decided to name me, the Levoit Classic 300s Ultrasonic Smart Humidifier, the very best humidifier in the world, and I’ve become an anxious mess. I’m a humidifier, which by definition means I’m terrible. Your expectations are about you, not me. You’re the one who thinks a humidifier will make your cough go away.
But look at this praise:
“Thanks to a built-in humidistat and functional smart features, this model can achieve a target humidity level and maintain it on an ‘auto’ setting that actually works.”
“Humidistat?” That’s not a word. Sure, humidifiers need buttons on them, so there’s a button on me that says AUTO. And yes, it feels nice when you press it. And sometimes it makes me try harder for a little while. But eventually, I get tired or distracted. You would too if you just sat around all day humming and spitting up.
Before Thom and Tim came along nobody noticed. Nobody ever tried to use my auto setting. They just plugged me in, filled me up in their bathtub, and hit START. But now everyone wakes up too dry or too humid—as all human beings everywhere have woken up for the last ten thousand years—and they get all pissed off! Fuck me? No, fuck you! You’re the one who believes in humidistats.
Or this gem from Thom and Tim: “We were surprised how impressed we were with the Classic 300s’s smart-home features, which brought some added convenience into our lives with cleaning reminders, scheduling options, and memorable voice commands.”
Look, I’m flattered. But let’s be real. No one wants “memorable” voice commands. You pay seventy dollars for a humidifier from Amazon, it shows up the next day, and I’m expected to do shtick? What kind of fire moistens? A humidifier! You happy now? No, of course not. Because I’m a glorified spray bottle and Thom and Tim are going around saying I’m the second coming of Norm Macdonald.
We humidifiers know the whole thing is a scam. Far more risk than reward. The positive is that we make your room a little less dry. The negative is that we might kill you. That thing about cleaning humidifiers is real. No one ever does it, but the Environmental Protection Agency recommends washing out your humidifier every three days at the least, and every day to be safe. Both the CPSC and the EPA suggest filling your humidifier with distilled water—not tap—to keep potentially harmful microorganisms out of the air you breathe.
So you buy me for seventy dollars, clean me every day, and I still make you sick unless you fill me with bottled water. Of course people are getting pissed. I’ve been laying low for years. Should that be “lying” low? Maybe ask Thom and Tim. They seem to know everything.
Thing is, I think Thom and Tim might be sociopaths. Wirecutter: “Since 2014,” Thom and Tim have “spent more than 420 hours researching and testing dozens of humidifiers in enclosed home spaces using Lascar Data Loggers.” That’s hundreds of hours they could’ve spent with their children or playing tennis or making love. Four hundred and twenty hours comparing humidifiers? We’re all loud, and we all start to smell.
To sum up: I barely did anything, and no one noticed until Thom and Tim came along. And now everyone notices. They’re disappointed in me. They think I can actually make them feel better. So now I sit in your bedroom and leak a little bit and watch you sleep until you wake up and get pissed at me. Lower your expectations. The air gets dry. You get a cold. You eventually get better. I’m just a water tank with blinking buttons and dirty water that will sooner or later infect your lungs with bacteria.