Satire Friday: Idiot-proof

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___ I accept

Well, if you’ve gotten this far, I certainly hope you checked  “I accept.”  I wouldn’t want to incur any present of future liability for myself or others from my loyal readers. Why do we have such silly disclaimers and warnings on everything from take-out cups to hair dryers? What has become of our society that we need to have warnings, safety instructions and agreements for everything we touch, buy or do?

I’m old enough to remember the days when if one bought an appliance, it came with a one or two page pamphlet with directions of how to use the appliance. There were no wacky disclaimers such as “do not use while sleeping” (on a curling iron – please!) or “do not stand on door” on a dishwasher” (!!). I remember when computer software programs actually let the user make their own decisions on what to save, what to delete and so on. There were no warnings every time you chose a function. If you deleted something, it was gone. It was your choice to delete it and your responsibility if you mistakenly deleted it. Compare this with today. You can’t delete anything – Microsoft asks if you’re sure you want to delete,  are you really, really sure, and after you insist you’re really, really sure, it still won’t delete anything, but moves it to – the recycle bin. Just in case it turns out that you were not really, really sure after all.

The book that came with my dishwasher has five pages of “important safety instructions” which include such cautions as “…you can be killed if you don’t follow the instructions…”, “do not install dishwasher outdoors” and my favorite “do not store gasoline in the dishwasher.” My electric range book has four pages of safety warnings, from “do not scratch cooktop surface with riveted clothing” for those who might be inclined to sit on the cooktop surface in jeans, to “do not heat unopened canned food in the oven.” Yes, there is no way I would have had the good sense to not sit on the cooktop in jeans or any other kind of pants, or throw a can of pork and beans in the oven had I not had these warnings.

 Which brings me to the reason why we must endure these tedious and absurd warnings. My theories: lack of personal responsibility, a sense of entitlement, and a tendency to be overly litigious. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Comments please.