App of the Week: Fake Shower

Pure genius: A cure for bathroom embarrassment that conserves vital natural resources

Published May 12, 2013 6:00PM (EDT)

                  (<a href=''>silver tiger</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>/Salon)
(silver tiger via Shutterstock/Salon)

You've been there. You know you have. You're in the bathroom, engaged in some completely normal excretory functions. You start to feel embarrassed at the possibility that someone outside the bathroom door might hear the appalling sounds emanating from your nether regions. The prospect of inflicting such unpleasantness on innocent ears is intolerable! So you crank up the sink faucet or turn on the shower, hoping the sound of running water will give you cover.

And then you feel a different kind of shame, a sense of environmental guilt at having wasted precious natural resources just to disguise the sound of something that everyone does, every single day.

I won't lie. This exact scenario has plagued me ever since I moved into my current rental, in which the only bathroom in the house opens up into both bedrooms. The acoustics are amazing! My son can hear everything. I know full well that my embarrassment is a product of some awful mix of repression and shame about my natural body that 25 years of living in Berkeley should have exorcised long ago, but I guess I was just scarred for life that one time my grandmother criticized me for farting in public when I was 6 years old. Even the bathroom hasn't been a safe refuge ever since!

Well, guess what? There's an app for that! Akatu Fake Shower simulates the sound of a flowing sink faucet or shower, thereby simultaneously saving you embarrassment while saving the earth! This is true smartphone brilliance; the simplest of hacks for solving a pressing social quandary. Some might call this unnecessary technological solutionism, while others might decry the substitution of simulation for the reality and meaning of lived human experience, but not I. Any trick that helps us sleep easier and keeps the spigot turned off is a good trick. I yearn to live in a time and place where Fake Shower is unnecessary, but I fear we must live in the world as it is while striving to make it into what it should be.

One more cool thing: You can handily adjust the total output (roaring Niagara Falls, gentle trickle), and the app keeps track of the total volume of water you save. There's even a gauge purporting to show the combined total of all the water saved all over the world by all the people who are using Fake Shower.

As of Friday morning, that total added up to a whopping 5,538,441 liters -- or about 500 tanker trucks.

I have some qualms about that statistic. For one thing, I'm sure that people don't have the same reservations about wasting virtual water as they would real water, so the total savings are probably inflated. But more troublingly, the very existence of cumulative totals imply that the Fake Shower developers are keeping a Panopticonic eye on every user's bathroom habits. What do they plan to do with this big dump data? Is the environmental pitch really just a smokescreen for figuring out a world map of natural body sound repression!? Have I been fooled again?

Even for fake showers, there ain't no free lunch.

For iOS only

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Akatu Fake Shower App Of The Week Bathroom Baudrillard Fake Shower Toilet Water