Posted by: thebylog | July 25, 2006

What is Reading, Really?

The other day I opened a couple of bank accounts. The procedure is actually pretty straightforward, but there was one nearly insurmountable hurdle: the privacy/disclosure agreements. You know, those statements filled with legal jargon that, in this case, were as long as a short novel.

I realize that these are necessary to prevent litigation and other fun stuff, but do they really have to say that “By clicking this button you acknowledge that you have received and read the disclosure documentation”? Isn’t a simple “By clicking this button you accept what we have written” adequate? Then, if I have signed over my right to drive a car and eat meat it’s my own problem because I chose not to read the fine print when they told me to. But please, don’t tell me that by clicking the button I have acknowledged that I have READ it. Because then I have to read it!

So I dutifully began plowing through the literary equivalent of a funeral dirge. A really, really long funeral dirge that is hard to understand. But soon, the system timed out and booted me off! This was after maybe 20 minutes. Ok, so I hadn’t enabled pop-ups in my web browser, and thus I hadn’t gotten the message that I could have extended my time. Fine. And the application process wasn’t so long. So I apply again, get to the same point and begin reading where I left off. So they give me two time-extensions, then throw me out again! Ridiculous, because they didn’t give me nearly enough time to do what they were forcing me (upon my word) to do. So they not only tell you you must read it, but they obviously either expect you to be a speed-reader (didn’t know that was a requirement to open a bank account), skip it, or just run your eyes uncomprehendingly over the hundreds of paragraphs and thousands of words.

So after re-applying about four times, I finally made it to the end of the interminable document and got my bank accounts.

I think this is probably one of those rare instances that strict honesty isn’t required of a Christian. In fact, my aunt recently discussed the correct response to a simple (and probably innocent) “How are you?” in times when you’re not really ok. I think this probably goes in the same category: a situation in which formality trumps idealism and honesty in the strictest sense of the world can be compromised.

Maybe. Because I didn’t act like what I just said.



  1. I have clicked countless “I have read and agree to” checkboxes, but never in my life have I read one in entirety. Rarely do I look at them at all. Interesting experiment. So they really don’t expect you to read them.

  2. I gotta know, Byran. What did it say? Am I still allowed to eat meat? Because I’ve never read one either.

  3. Those “by clicking I show that I have read and agree to the terms” statements have been among the most frustrating things in my life.
    Even worse are the ones that say “I have read and understand the terms of use.” Only honest Christian types would do the reading (I have done more than my share of it). But understanding the technical jargon of some software license agreement!? On the verge of impossibility and certainly on that of insanity.

    I think one would not be amiss to click without reading — such vexing statements are mainly there to cover the company. It might be a situation where it is appropriate to decipher what they meant as opposed to what they wrote.
    That said, it’s rightfully difficult for Christians to click w/o reading. It’s safer on the conscience to read.

  4. Oh, that we could just have such honesty in the nation’s capital…
    To have representation that actually follows the teachings of their parents and/or mentors to such a degree.

    Byran, could you find it in your heart to bring this Christian mentality with you when you enter the world of national politics in a few years ? We American citizens are SO longing for this kind of leadership !

    As for myself, however … I am weak. I lie like a dog at every “read and agree to” checkbox, and as for meat …. I’d chase down that cow by foot if necessary, if that was the only way I could get me a good steak !

    *By moving on to the next reply, you agree that you understand the context of the above message…

  5. Lyle, I can still eat meat with a clear conscience. In fact, I still hold all of my basic human rights. However, among the things they don’t cover or aren’t responsible for are acts of God.

  6. Anon, national politics? I don’t think so. But I too wish everyone was honest.

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