It’s now just a cultural given that nobody read the user terms and conditions that pop up every time we want to use a new piece of software or hardware in modern society; South Park did an episode about our shared technological blindness in 2011, and The Simpsons in 2008. At this point, we‘re basically inured to massive screens of text, scrolling down as fast as possible so that we can lie and click “I have read this massive wall of contract-ese” and get on with our digital lives.
But how long would it take for us to answer that question truthfully? That was the question asked by Australian consumer rights magazine Choice, which hired an actor named Lawrence to read the entirety of the terms and conditions for the Amazon Kindle out loud. It took nine hours.
Besides serving as a fun examination of what it’s like to watch a perfectly pleasant-seeming Australian man slowly lose his mind, it’s a potent reminder of just how much shit we’re skimming over with each of these agreements. (The Kindle document, which fills a decent-sized binder when printed out, is more than 73,000 words long.) Choice is calling for a simplification of these massive documents that we all unthinkingly agree too, and it’s not clear what they’ll next do to poor Lawrence if Amazon doesn’t agree.