Sep 152010
Authors: Shane Rohlender

I don’t know if I’m positively or negatively charged, but static electricity shocks me at least three times a day.

Metal door handles are terrifying. Dryers make me completely neurotic.

Last weekend I had an experience with the zipper on my pants and static shock. I’ll never do my laundry while going commando again. Let’s just say the hair on my head wasn’t the only thing standing up.

After suffering such a traumatizing experience, I wanted to know why.

According to Wikipedia, static electricity refers to the electrical charge of something.

Unlike electrical current, which is the flow of electricity through a conductor or insulator, static electricity creates a charge in each of the two objects involved.

When two objects (a.k.a. human and dryer) are brought together, electrons start jumping ship to attain balance in the force.

So when you touch the dryer, atoms automatically transfer electrons from the metal to you in order to reach equilibrium. As long as you remain in contact with said dryer, you’re safe.

The static discharge (a.k.a. the painful shock) happens when the two objects separate. This creates a discharge channel where leftover electrons, trying to get back to the object least resistant to electrical flow, are torn apart so violently that the original accumulation of the charge is neutralized and new charges are formed elsewhere (a.k.a. angry electrons take their revenge).

I want all of you to know this information because static electricity is a global issue that often goes untreated. Too many people suffer from this problem for it to be ignored any longer.

For instance, I often let others open doors for me, even if I’m in front of them. This can be misconstrued as rudeness, but really it’s deep, impenetrable fear.

I’ve sworn off using metal hand railings, which I believe will eventually lead to my quick and anonymous death. I completely soak my arms and pants in water before taking my clothes out of the dryer now. I’m pretty sure one girl at the laundromat thought I was sweating profusely and almost dialed 911.

It’s important to note here that lightning is a dramatic example of static electricity. I’m so prone to being shocked by even the miniscule metal button that turns on my stove light that I’m fairly certain I’m going to be struck by lightning.

The tombstone will read, “Here lies Shane Rohleder. Positively charged at death.”
Some people have already begun to take a stand.

There are antistatic wristbands with extendable crocodile clips for sale. These can be worn daily and the crocodile clip can be used to hold an I.D. badge identifying you as a suffering victim of static discharge.

I’m looking into it.

There is also an “I hate static electricity” Facebook group. Perhaps with enough people, a petition can be presented to Congress for increased research efforts to help those suffering from the obvious physical and emotional pain caused by unruly electrons.

I’ve even read about an antistatic agent that can be applied to items (or humans?) that are particularly sensitive to static discharge. This agent, according to Wikipedia, would add a conducting surface layer to the object ensuring that any excess charge is evenly distributed.

If you happen to see a very oily looking person walking around campus next week, it’s probably me. Don’t judge. All cures must be considered, and I’m as desperate as a housewife. Maybe the cure could deter lighting as well.

You may be reading this with tears streaming down your face because, finally, one of us has chosen to speak out. For too long we’ve been silently suffering, and I say: No more!
Wear your antistatic wristband with extendable crocodile clips proudly. Soak in your antistatic agents without concern. Join the “I hate static electricity” Facebook group.
Together, we can beat this.   
Shane Rohleder is a senior communication studies major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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