How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist
The “most empowering” menu is different than the menu that has the most choices. But when we blindly surrender to the menus we’re given, it’s easy to lose track of the difference:
- “Who’s free tonight to hang out?” becomes a menu of most recent people who texted us (who we could ping).
- “What’s happening in the world?” becomes a menu of news feed stories.
- “Who’s single to go on a date?” becomes a menu of faces to swipe on Tinder (instead of local events with friends, or urban adventures nearby).
- “I have to respond to this email.” becomes a menu of keys to type a response (instead of empowering ways to communicate with a person).
When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications — it frames the experience of “waking up in the morning” around a menu of “all the things I’ve missed since yesterday.” (for more examples, see Joe Edelman’s Empowering Design talk)
By shaping the menus we pick from, technology hijacks the way we perceive our choices and replaces them with new ones. But the closer we pay attention to the options we’re given, the more we’ll notice when they don’t actually align with our true needs.