“Outsourcing Common Sense”

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A fascinating article in yesterday’s New York Times introduced me to a new way to make money. Parents are hiring consultants to teach them how to get their children off their electronic devices. The job is lucrative; in small towns the going rate is $80 an hour, in large cities $120 an hour. I contemplated becoming a consultant!

Why on earth would a parent  need to pay another adult this kind of money to wean their child from electronics? It seems to me to be a symptom of a larger issue–outsourcing common sense. How difficult must it be to realize that children need to have alternatives to staring at screens? How much deep thought is required to become aware that eating dinner together while every family member is on her phone doesn’t count as “quality time?” Does no one realize that “monkey see, monkey do” applies to children observing their parents stare mindlessly at screens?

Maybe common sense is less common than I think. Otherwise why would the manual for my dishwasher state “If it doesn’t turn on check to see if the power cord is attached.” Why does the cup of coffee state “contents are hot?” Why does the doctor have to call multiple times to remind me of my appointment and then tell me to arrive 15 minutes early because so many people come late. I used to think it was my responsibility to write down my appointments.

I would love to hear from readers of other instances of disappearing common sense. Is this a worldwide phenomenon or just a problem here?

20 thoughts on ““Outsourcing Common Sense”

  1. As a secondary school teacher and Mum of a 13 and 16 year old, I battle this daily. A big problem I feel is parents not setting boundaries for their children.they simply don’t want the hassle of fighting with them/are too tires from work/plain lazy. The result is a generation of kids who are rapidly loosing core communication skills. It’s really sad. Outsourcing this challenge to someone else rather than dealing with it yourself is poor parenting. I think we all need to step up and set some rules, ensure device free time, phones away at night, limit hours etc Teachers can’t do it on their own although we do bare the brunt of device addiction and poor communication skills every day.

    1. I too have noticed poor communication skills with young clerks who don’t seem to be able to make eye contact. I am astonished at how often parents think teachers should fix problems they caused. My sympathy.

  2. I think that commonsense has disappeared in a sea of litigation, Elizabeth. The manual for my new kettle tells me that ‘The water will be boiling, and could be dangerous’. ‘Scald hazard!’ And that is just one example of a tidal wave of ‘instructional advice’ on everything from phone chargers, to microwave food cartons.
    Companies and manufacturers are seemingly so scared of legal reprisals, their user manuals are running to dozens of pages, most of which are ‘warnings’.
    It is yet another example of the ‘Nanny State’ reaching out into commerce.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. When I see the warnings that seem so unnecessary, I realize that this is one of the consequences of living in a litigious society. I remember reading about a lawsuit filed by a burglar who suffered severe medical injuries when the roof collapsed of the business he was robbing.

    As far as the addiction to electronics, one only has to look at people eating in a restaurant to see how bad things have become. Rather than actually interacting with the people right in front of them, many choose to devote their full attention to their phones.

  4. Oh my, common sense seems to be lacking in some aspects in this world. Those gadgets should be in limited use to certain age in our kids. And we should not replace television and those games with good old fun, that is being together and setting a time for the family.

  5. I agree: the nanny state has sent the notion of common sense scuttling for the shadows when it comes to manuals. And the trend for paying ‘experts’ to fix problems seems rife. What strikes me though, is when I talk to my grandchildren or indeed to other youngsters (below the age of 10) they seem chock full of common sense. We should be encourgaing this, not knocking it out of them with inane instructions and unnecessary experts.

  6. How about those 6 inch labels in clothing that give washing instructions in numerous languages. I thought the idea of the little icons was to replace written instructions.

  7. I know in the US, society has gone Liberty/Rights crazy. People have died for the rights, but those that never fought have perverted them to suit the “Me” culture, where everyone is equal. Where an individual, has the right to express his feelings in any manner he chooses.

    I saw this coming decades ago. When the first judge stated, that an officer being cussed at, is just part of the job, and to be expected. Out the window went disorderly conduct, and respect for authority.

    It only takes a few from a fringe group, to negate common sense, in the guise of “rights”. Rationalization is another tool. Not too many years ago, students were not allowed phones in school. The school shootings began. After a while, a few parents held enough sway to bend that rule. Little Johnny, needs his phone in case there is a shooting. How about sticking to the rules, and just let those in charge (teachers) have phones. Look at us now, fights, sexual exploits recorded by cell phone.

    Parents are to blame for not taking time, or putting forth effort. Judges take away any hope of meaningful discipline of adults or children. No one should tolerate abuse, but there needs to be consequences. We reached the pinnacle, when we determined that a person who would brutalize a child by torture and death, has more of a right to life, than that child.

    Now I must go and make sure my caustic toilet brush, still has the warning, “Not for personal hygiene” on it. At my age, I may have a lapse of memory while in the shower.

  8. I recently saw a story where a father had trained the family dog to stand between his daughter and her phone when she was supposed to be doing her homework. I guess we could always go into dog training instead of consulting. The dogs might be easier to teach than the kids.

  9. It is rather odd to employ someone to get your child off an electronic device. Surely, you can just take it away. This lack of common sense is a plague of the modern world and the millennials need to have checklists for every small task it seems, they can’s work out how to do anything on their own in the workplace. I blame society for it though, as society set the standards and examples.

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