Slashdot To Include Warning Labels
Fake News written by on Sunday, May 12, 2002
HOLLAND, MICHIGAN -- In what some are calling an "epidemic", medical scientists have discovered that heart attack rates have shot up nearly 50% among geeks and nerds during the past three years. Other stress-related health problems have also undergone disproportionate increases, leading some to seek a connection with "stressful" websites like Slashdot that typically feature high levels of bad news.
"Before the advent of weblogs, many people didn't know about all of the bad stuff government and corporations were up to," explained Dr. Mel Praktiss of the Payola Clinic's brand new Department of Nerd Neuroses. "Civil liberties infringements, copyright abuses, privacy violations, social injustice, political corruption, corporate exploitations, and other blood-pressure-increasing problems largely go unreported in the lamestream media, but are heavily emphasized on the Web. This endless stream of bad news is simply not good for mental and physical health."
Taco Boy has decided to place a small warning label on the front page of Slashdot advising users of the potential health risks of reading too many negative articles. "This site featurs [sic] many stories that will likely make you angry at governments and corporations, and will potentially increase your stress levels to unhealthy levels," the label says. "Please take short breaks after reading negative articles and please refrain from hitting reload every five minutes to catch the latest bad news -- it can wait. Remember that life will go even if Fritz Holings [sic], Bill Gates, Jack Valenti, Larry Ellison, and other do-badders are able to declare total victory..."
We here at Humorix, also worried that one of our three regular readers might suffer a heart attack as the result of mistaking a fake story for a real one, have contemplated putting a warning label on the front page of humorix.org.
"You simply can't be too careful," argued Humorix Legal Counsel Noah Morals, Esq. "Tech websites could go the way of the tobacco industry if enough lawyers smell blood. Just as cigarette companies got slammed for knowingly marketing dangerous products, folks like Taco Boy could get creamed for knowingly publishing heart-attack-inducing stories. If some lawyer could ever get hands on an email in which Rob Malda admits to manipulating the level of addictive bad news on his site to increase hit counts for the evil Andover Keiretsu, then the entire industry is doomed. Humorix shouldn't take any chances."
Noah Morals also suggested that we strive to show the silver lining of otherwise bad news. And indeed there is good news with this story: Big Microsoft could also go the way of Big Tobacco. Recent crime statistics show that "tech rage" incidents are on the increase, and it should come as no surprise that virtually all of these cases involve Microsoft products.
"Almost any time somebody takes a handgun or a sledgehammer to a computer, it's the result of a Windows bug," explained one police officer who specializes in Tech Rage investigations. "Some people can deal with the stress of crappy Microsoft products by installing Linux. But many people let their anger and stress build up until it erupts into a violent outburst against their computers -- and if this trend continues, this violence could spread to family members, computer store salesmen, and even innocent bystanders."
Several industry pundits have argued that warning labels should come on certain Microsoft products associated with high stress levels -- in other words, all of them. Some recommendations include "WARNING: This products sucks. Side effects of prolonged use include headaches, high blood pressure, and frequent dreams about strangling Bill Gates." and "CAUTION: This product greatly exceeds the government's daily recommended allowance of stress, strain, pressure, and anxiety. Do not operate when you are in reach of firearms, sledgehammers, or other potential weapons."
One industry analyst we interviewed suggested that, at some point in the future, warning labels would come with their own warning labels. "We all know Microsoft products suck and cause headaches, so why insult the user by pointing out that fact? Some companies, fearing lawsuits from users harmed by the original warning labels, might start sticking on meta-warning labels that say, 'WARNING: The following warning contains obvious information and might cause some people to start rolling on the floor laughing, which could ultimately result in bone injuries or breathing problems. You have been warned.'"