I think therefore I am.
I do therefore I am.
I feel therefore I am.
I have read the terms and conditions.
That last line came from the backseat of our van just the other day, as my wife and I were discussing the statements that summed up different generations. My 14-year old son surmised this to be the line for his generation. We all laughed as it seemed pretty much off the cuff, but also because it was pretty much dead on. And it came from a member of the generation, which I always find to be pretty insightful.
The statement immediately brought to mind every advertisement, every video game, every cereal box, every power tool, every EULA, etc. that has some kind of disclaimer attached. Everything this generation has their hands on has some kind of disclaimer attached. A spot where one must acknowledge that they are fully aware of the decision they are about to make, as well as all the rights and responsibilities afforded to the power of this decision. There is right way/place/time for the use of said item, and there is a sequence of events to follow once you decide to proceed.
There has always been set of rights and responsibilities attached to our decisions. Nothing new to the assumption. But the expressed statements on everything and the assumption that I will have to go through this gatekeeper on all matters, that is new. Somehow, this practice makes everyone more aware and more knowledgeable of their forthcoming decisions. Really? The past would say that people were able to make decisions and learn from them without a virtual guardian in place.
The desired value in place on this gradual move, the meaning attached to the action over the years, is that of complete safety. We can keep our kids safe by putting disclaimers, warnings, and checkboxes on everything. We can keep companies safe by giving them the opportunity to remove responsibility for what they offer. We can offer creative powers safety in knowing that they own everything they produce, regardless of the chosen platform. If no one is thinking, they will feel safe in this setting.
The old adage of ‘Common sense is not that common’ applies here. Safety is a very difficult promise to hold in any setting. It assumes that you can keep the outside out, and the inside from desiring contact with the outside. I’m not sure I know of many circumstances where that is a reality. Now security, that is something different. It assumes that interaction will take place, and I may have to learn to deal with the outcomes. It does not allow for implicit trust of everything around me, but it also does not assume trust is absent. Instilling a pure sense of security in a person does not assume that everything is safe.
Security learned leads to discernment practiced, even amidst a world trying to feel safe.