Disclaimers are a lot like luggage locks and elections - we know they don't make much of a difference, but we use them anyways. We suspend reason and put our trust in them, pretending they somehow make us safer as we do something ill advised like check-in a precious guitar at the Nairobi airport, vote Green, or (gasp) diss ice cream on a blog.
Granted, I buried the disclaimer in the 2nd to last paragraph: "I'm all for the occasional treat - even, I admit, an imported non-organic big-corporation one - but not as a habit." But regardless of placement, it would not have mitigated the perception of me as a self-flagellating, judgmental, or neurotic fool. Commenting friends applauded Sarah for supposedly corrupting me with Breyers Caramilk ice cream the next day, even though I'd just openly acknowledged a weakness for it. Either no-one read the disclaimer, or (more likely) no-one believed it.
Back in April I knowingly walked into it even deeper, noting what I still believe to be a fact that women take more personal retreats and bubble baths than men. I put in a huge, genuine disclaimer about valuing women, and another bald disclaimer about overgeneralizing about both genders. I then wrote the meat of the article, about my perception that men are doers (saying nothing at all about women being or not being just as do-oriented - I considered adding that as another disclaimer, but knew it would do no good.) Sure enough, when the facebook comments flooded back, it was all about how women really want to work, not soak. Once again clear that either no-one read the disclaimer, or (more likely) no-one believed it.
"You're really ugly - just kidding!" A grade eight teacher taught us that "just kidding" more likely means that you do mean it. That is, he suggested, a disclaimer is not only ineffective, but that it accentuates the impact of the rest of what you said.
So I'm just going to stop writing advance apologies for people I may offend or omit, stop pointing out that what I say about myself probably doesn't apply to many or most others, stop trying to point out that in sharing my own personal struggle to walk my particular path of faith I'm not implying judgment of other peoples' paths. I'm just going to write my view of Truth and let it be taken as it may. That's the only real thing I have to say anyways - what I believe and experience, not how others may experience it. In fact, viewed in that way, a disclaimer could be seen as a form of vanity or disrespect - trying to anticipate the reader's reaction or experience and in a way discredit it.
So, no more disclaimers. Just pure unobliging obnoxious annoying me (just kidding :)
Write to Renew - One of our previous graduates, the talented Jay Nahani, is leading us in a Write to Renew workshop June 14th. For writers and non-writers alike, this one-d...