I just read a good article by Danny Brown that discusses disclaimers being as important as disclosures. I did not like the feeling it left me with. It’s not that it was poorly written or bad advice, just the opposite actually. No, it’s just that it was filled with the same damn worry that is consuming the world. The concern that someone will blame me and sue me for something I said.
Brown suggests that it is important for a writer to include a disclaimer stating that he is, or is not, a professional. Is it good advice? Probably so, and I might even do something for the convenience of my readers, but why the big stink? Worried that someone might take your open advice and do something stupid with it? Look, if someone told you to jump off this bridge, would you? NO !! You wouldn’t, and neither would I. The health related article discusses advice that might cause someone to feel faint, and subsequently create a hazard while driving, for example. If you are driving and feel faint, PULL OVER.
If you do something radically different than what you are used to, here’s my advice to you: There is risk involved. VALIDATE IT. GO ASK SOMEONE ELSE ABOUT IT. Really, we do that don’t we? We get second opinions for expert advice. You read something that smells fishy, you keep looking for enough similar positive results, all the while looking suspiciously for the negatives. Then IF YOU DECIDE to proceed, do so cautiously.
If something suspicious that I try goes wrong, I’d say “yep, there it is”. I don’t blame other people if it didn’t work well for ME. “But what if it were my child?”. What difference does that make? Are you foolish enough to try something with your child without validating it? If you continue without consulting a professional, IT IS YOUR FAULT.
My boy Joe, who is 12, was eating a banana a moment ago. I asked “hey, what if you friend said you’d feel abundantly strong after eating 20 bananas. Would you do it?” He said after some hesitation, “Probably, but I’d first check the internet. If I didn’t find anything, I give it a try, spread out over some time, just in case” I asked, “what if it made you sick, and you lost a day of school, resulting in extra homework? What would you do?” He responded, “I’d go tell the dude it didn’t work”.” I asked, “would you pound him?” He said “NO.” Intrigued, I asked “why not?”
He said “because I’m the one that ate the 20 bananas.” That’s my boy.
I asked my other boy Jamie the same question, and his response was “No !” I asked why not, and he responded, “It sounds stupid”.
Get Over It
What a great song. Thanks Don. Seriously, get a grip on yourselves. Have some self respect and admit that you followed advice and it went bad wrong. Tell your friends about your experience, and move on. This crap is eroding the free speech that we all enjoy.
A person should not have to carry a disclaimer sign with them, just to avoid being sued because they expressed their opinion or recommended something.
Professional advice vs. General recommendation
I try real hard to put myself in other people’s shoes, and see how it feels. After writing the previous section, I did this, thinking about if it were my child that was hurt as a result of bad advice, or one of my fellow blogger’s children that I love reading about, and I came up with this realization:
I’d feel differently if I had sought professional help. I paid for it, we have a deal.
When you hire a professional, you have entered into an agreement, and should expect a benefit. This is why you hire a professional, because they AGREE to benefit YOU personally. YOU HIRE US SO WE CAN DO THE JOB RIGHT. Why? Because without taking the time to investigate your situation, we cannot accurately determine what will be best for you.
I am good for my word, whether you hire me or not. This is one of the basic foundations of respect, and that is how I was raised. If I say “this will benefit YOU”, then I will back it up. However, when people say “this works great”, it is only their opinion, and they are sharing it. Everyone should have that right without impunity.
Look folks, If you hire me to beat out a design solution, or teach you how to use a design product efficiently, you expect that I will deliver. I am a professional, and you have the right to expect me to correct anything that went wrong as a result of our agreement.
You should not have the right to sue someone because they said something. That’s beyond lame. People have the right to say ridiculous things, and you should not be able to sue them because of it. (we should however have the right to pound them occasionally.)
You have the right to suck it up and accept the fact that you are ultimately responsible for your own actions. It’s not the free advice that nailed you, it’s that YOU ACTED ON IT WITHOUT VALIDATING IT. Pure and simple.
I am a design professional. I am not an attorney. I have stated my opinion, and like it or not, is just that, an opinion. The ‘be a stand up guy or gal’ advice that I have given has both positive and negative ramifications. Positive: more people will respect you for taking responsibility for your own actions. Negative: you will not get rich this way. In fact you will lose money hand over fist, either correcting problems that resulted while acting as a professional, or not suing people because they exercised their right to free speech.