I go online this morning and flip through my email. Five messages in the SPAM hopper, which I always check because occasionally a legit email gets stuck there. I peruse the senders: some king from a fantasy land has selected me to entrust with a preposterous amount of money, but first I need to send some of my own to his agent, acting on his behalf. Both Mexico and Canada are offering me a fantastic choice of pharmaceuticals to help with 'Lift Off" (nudge nudge wink wink). And I always look for my favorite spam from "Sexy Time"; the subject line asks "Do you want Sexy Time?", and this reminds me of an SNL skit centered around the idiosyncratic use of the English language by non-native English speakers, which is why it is my silly favorite.
Checking all the boxes, I hit "delete" and am met with this question:
"Are you sure you want to delete all five messages?"
These sorts of queries are almost confusing. Should I not be sure? It's spam, right? I checked the box specifically so that I could delete those specific messages. Wait, are they implying that I should be sending money to the King of Nowheresland's agent's private off-shore account? In my haste, am I missing a great deal on Levitra, something we most certainly do not (yet) need? What about Sexy Time? Maybe my life would be better if right now, at 7:30 in the morning, I did want Sexy Time after all?
Too much consideration about nothing. But the same can be said for the library website. I adore our library, but its website is also alarmist in its warnings. The library computer is kind enough to send me an email every so often, letting me know that materials will soon be due and that I can renew them online. This is lovely, and I do take advantage of these services. However, after a recent update of their system, for a while every time I went to renew books, I encountered three different screens. The first screen shows the materials and their original due dates, and it is on this screen that I hit the "renew all" button. It used to be that a second screen asked "Renew All will renew all items. Do you want to renew all items?" Are we serious? If confronted with this option, is there anyone who stops and thinks "You know, on second thought, I'd better not. Think I'll make life interesting and chance the over dues!" So then, I press "Yes", because that's a hoop we now have to jump through, making a decision twice by formalizing the first request. I am compelled to wonder how it came to this. Were there long, heated conversations with library patrons? "I did not want to renew this book! Why did your computer program say I renewed it when I had no intention of renewing?! Please, let me pay the fines I didn't get to accrue!" Not me. Renew them all. And give me an extra extension if possible, please.
So, this weird second-guessing feels like nutty caretaking from a dotty grandmother. "Do you want a sweater? No? Are you sure you don't want a sweater? Take a sweater, you might need it. I think you might need that sweater, dearie." All I can think is "I don't want the sweater. It's 90 degrees outside, Granny, so we can talk this into circles, but I'm leaving now, without the sweater, and you can lay an 'I told you so' on me later."
In the meantime, I will keep doing risky things like deleting with impunity, "Renew All"-ing and "Navigating Away From This Page". From my perspective, if we are smart enough to be operating a computer, are these warnings really necessary? Maybe. After all, maybe I'm not all that bright if I keep passing up offers for Sexy Time....