Where I write one thing, and you read another…


Go to a store and buy something. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Whether its a new car or a bag of frozen peas, it will come with a manual. To be certain, the less complicated the item, the shorter the manual; in some cases, it may be a few sentences on the side of the packaging. Pop Tarts come with instructions. Seriously. And the instruction is not “Toast the pop tart, then eat it.” In this world, when we buy something, universally, we expect to be given rules on how to use it. Even if we have no intention of reading them. More importantly, we also expect to be told how not to use it. Individuals and corporations are inundated with lawsuits regarding this concept.

This surprises me. Not that people blame others when they themselves do something stupid – passing blame is what Americans do – rather that in our society we still expect to be given instructions. Haven’t we moved past that as a species by now? I mean, if I buy something, shouldn’t I just do whatever I want with it? Isn’t that what freedom is all about? And, in the process of doing whatever I want, if said purchase breaks, its the manufacturer’s fault…right? Right?

Wait, you are saying no? Huh…

The above section is idiotic. No sane person would agree with it. When someone sits down to make something, they always begin by trying to solve some question. Everything that has ever been made, was made for a reason; to fulfill some purpose. To be fair, not everything ever made fulfills its intended purpose. Sometimes trying to solve one problem leads us to the answer of another, but all discovery comes from the seeking of an answer.

The shirt was invented to cover ones body. There are many different types and styles, but that’s what they all do. If I buy a shirt of 100% cotton, the manual (usually found on the tag) will probably tell me not to put it in the clothes dryer (which has a big manual), or it will shrink. The manual won’t stop me from drying that shirt, if I choose. The manual doesn’t hate me because I like warm shirts or the smell of fabric softener. The manual is simply stating the ramifications of a certain action. Ignoring this instruction has resulted in several of my favorite shirts being reallocated to my wife.

More complicated items have significantly more rules for their operation, and thus thicker manuals. Electronics often tell you the appropriate type of electrical socket and current needed for a device to work properly. Depending on where you live, the device you own may not match up with the outlets available to you. Take a Russian toaster to Mexico and you’ll run into an issue. Does that mean Russians hate Mexicans? Of course not. You may need additional help, usually a converter or adapter, to make it work. If you chose not to use one, you may need a new toaster.

Claw hammers are specifically designed to pound nails through wood. That is their purpose. I have used hammers for a great number of things not involving wood or nails. I’ve opened paint cans with them. I prop doors open with them. Once I hit a freezer with one in frustration because of the strange sound it was making. The sound stopped. Does that mean the hammer’s purpose is now to fix refrigerators? Of course not. Successful misapplication doesn’t change a things nature. ‘Circling the wagons’ may have been better than nothing, but I’m sure the pioneers would have preferred a siege wall.

This may seem like a lot of meaningless talk about manuals. Perhaps it is. You may think I’m alluding to something very different. Perhaps I am. Yet if you look at what I wrote, you’d be hard pressed to disagree with anything there. Its obvious to anyone without an agenda. Things that are made work in certain ways, are intended to work in those ways, and using them outside of those ways can (and likely will) result in either damage to the thing you’re using, or damage to the person using it.

Its not personal.

Its not hateful.

Its not intolerant.

It simply is.

If only that type of logic worked with people.



About TJ

Capitalist by day, Enthusiast by Night, Mostly Harmless all the time

Posted on September 9, 2013, in Random Blathering, Writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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