Too many words, so you don’t read it

Marine Traffic website

You know those terms and conditions, the user agreement, the fine print … We’ve all be subjected to it, over and over again. Do you know anyone that reads it, all of it, from beginning to end – and understands it?


No, I don’t either.

That’s what the organisations creating these million word missives rely on, first that we won’t read the thing and secondly that even if we do read it there is no way at all we have a hope of understanding it.

These documents do not exist to ensure a fair agreement between company and user – if it were the case you would have the opportunity to alter or amend it. They exist instead to ensure the company exercises its legal opportunities to the maximum while allowing their users as few rights possible. Any document which contains “XXX reserves the right to amend this document at any time” where you are not XXX, there is no fairness involved.

No, long-winded legalese is there for the same reason that vague government-speak exists and both produce multi-page documents saving little to nothing of value for the purposes of creating disinterest and boredom. This allows the creators of said documents to effectively get away with whatever they please.

Another gem, not quite at the level of these legalistic agreements and double-speak but equally galling, is the existence of “it’s not company policy”. So what? Is company policy law? Does company policy extend to non-employees? The answer to this is no. Companies can make all the rules they like, but without a legal basis for any rules they might invent none of it can be enforced.

We live in a world where there are rules and there are guidelines, some of the guidelines are disguised to look like rules in the hopes that we will not recognise them for what they are. Don’t be fooled.

On a final note, did you ever wonder what that boat floating by was all about, or perhaps what aeroplane that was overhead? You can use flightradar24 to track aircraft and Marine Traffic will do a good job of telling you what’s out on the water. Both of these sites cover the globe in terms of the information they can provide, and even if you aren’t interested in a specific aircraft or vessel you’ll find the information provided to be interesting and strangely diverting.

Author: Morné Condon

Automotive journalist in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, following new models, old cars, car clubs and motorsport. My interests are not restricted to the automotive environment, although this is where I am mostly to be found.

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