Catering to the LCD

No, not Liquid Crystal Display.

By the by, this is a rant. If it offends you, I’m ok with that. If it makes you think I’m even more ok with that. If it causes you to fix it, you’re my hero.

Several weeks ago, I purchased a new water fountain for my cat. The old one (same model) I’d had probably since the early 2000s, when I had my previous cat, Jeb. I like this particular fountain, because for the most part it’s dirt simple to operate, only one moving part (the motor) and it’s fairly simple to clean. Granted, the plastic it’s made out of, once it’s embedded with hard water stains isn’t eternally easy to scrub, and in the past I’ve had to make use of a Dremel to get some of the harder deposits off. But still, it’s a good product and I’m content with getting another one when the old one became too difficult to clean properly.

As I was unboxing the fountain, a piece of paper came out at the same time. I noted it, but I didn’t honestly pay much attention to it. I set up the fountain, filled it with water, inserted the filter and away it went once I plugged it in (used the old power supply, will keep the new one for when it’s needed, if ever). Once that was done I started breaking down the box and noticed the piece of paper that had floated out originally. I turned it over and was presented with this:

Honestly, the moment I read it, I was a bit incredulous. At that point it occurred to me that their customer service arm must have had some customer contact them and say “I opened up your fountain and attempted to set it up, but there was this blue tape all over it and I’m returning it to you because it doesn’t work properly.” This, dear friends is something that probably wouldn’t have happened 40 plus years ago. Not that people were that stupid (believe me, they were) but someone else would have come up to them and suggested they remove the tape before contacting the customer service line. I’m reminded of something a comedian had said a few years ago in reference to vehicle owner’s manuals. He said that 40-50 years ago, if you looked at the manual for a vehicle, it would tell you how to change the timing of the valves in your car. Now it says not to drink the fluid in the battery.

Nowadays in many many different ways, we cater to the Lowest Common Denominator. The ones at the bottom of the pile, so they can feel better about themselves. In so many ways, we could be better, if the ones that we’re catering to weren’t slowing us down. Why does a piece of electronics, or even a box from IKEA (or Wayfair) that needs to be assembled, have a note on the packet of activated charcoal that says “Do Not Eat”? I get that people have tried to do just that, but what’s the impetus of the necessity of it?

And before you say lawsuits, yes I understand that lawyers need something to do to make money. My argument for that is common sense. And perhaps better parenting. You can’t legislate your way out of people doing stupid things and being rewarded for it. And please, don’t come at me with the McDonald’s coffee lady. Yes coffee is hot. And if you accidentally spill it on yourself, it can be a tragedy. If the coffee was lukewarm, no doubt there would have been a complaint about that, rather than a lawsuit because the perceived temperature of the coffee was insisted to be ‘near the boiling point‘. I’m not going to relitigate that case. So now most (if not all) coffee cups have a warning on them that say to some degree ‘contents are/may be hot’. If, for not other reason than to protect those that don’t think about that.

It makes me wonder what this world is going to be like in 100 years. IF we make it that far.

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