CAUTION: STEPS, said six (6) signs at the British Library. Yes, thought I, they’re steps alright. They’re definitely steps. I stood, transfixed, wondering if perhaps they were man-eating steps, or trick steps that opened into an abyss and sent you plummeting into the core of the earth.
And then there are the talking lifts/elevators.
“The next stop will be level two. Level Two. The doors will open at level two. Please stand back until the lift has come to a halt. When the doors open, step out of the lift. If you do not plan to exit the lift, please stand back. Stand clear of the closing doors. The doors will now close. The doors have closed. The next stop will be level three.”
What did we do before all the warnings?
“Insert the flat end of the seatbelt into the buckle until you hear a click.” Thanks for that. Or, “This product may contain nuts.” On a packet of nuts.
How hard a time would we have if all the signs disappeared? Would we not know how to buckle our seatbelts? Not recognize the stairs? Not understand how to get out of a lift? Or is it all about removing the time, the space, the freedom to think?
Here’s my warning:
BEWARE OF INFANTILISATION. BEWARE OF CONDESCENSION. BEWARE OF LOSING YOUR FREEDOM TO TRIP OVER A STEP.
Or as the wonderful old IBM sign said, way back in the 1960s: