Monday, November 20, 2006

Failed Communications 

Flying last week was a reminder of communications that appear to fail but must be done. These are government-mandated instructions before every flight. Airline attendants give a demonstration or run a video and passengers ignore everything being said. One wonders why anyone bothers beyond fulfilling the law -- and that is precisely the point. Airlines are fulfilling the law. They use the same words and show the exact same demonstrations in the same order.

Why bother? I flew in a private plane as well last week, and there were no similar instructions.

But then, if one were to think about it, our cultural is permeated with government-mandated information that few read from ingredients on the side of food boxes to lists of contraindications that come with every vial of medicine. Some of it is tort-proofing in a litigious society, but most of it is a vain attempt to tell people information they probably should know. The difficulty is that most people don't care to know.

There must be a better way. At least, one would think so. Do agencies that mandate such useless information-sending have professional communicators? I'm sure they do. I wonder if they are ever put to the task of determining how to inform people more effectively?


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