UI Infantilization

Beauty of the internet right there: I was reading Scott McCloud’s interview at No Don’t Die. In there, a reference to a Simon Pegg’s blog post. Who in it, talks about Jean Baudrillard, a well-known French sociologist. Simon writes:

Recent developments in popular culture were arguably predicted by the French philosopher and cultural theorist, Jean Baudrillard in his book, ‘America’, in which he talks about the infantilization of society. Put simply, this is the idea that as a society, we are kept in a state of arrested development by dominant forces in order to keep us more pliant. We are made passionate about the things that occupied us as children as a means of drawing our attentions away from the things we really should be invested in, inequality, corruption, economic injustice etc.

I was thinking about User Interface these days. Circled icons and pictures. rounded corners everywhere. Why? To make us feel like we are safe, playing. To make us feel like those companies are soft and cozy, that they are not harmful despite the fact that they have access to everything we do online and use that to leverage money in a way (ads) or another (investor’s money). Do not forget that they know exactly how long we stay online, what we click, what we look at etc.

Emojis is the culminating point. It’s not cute, it’s language’s infantilization right there. Icons everywhere instead of words is the same tactic. I was looking at iOS 11 and how there was one thing where they had to write what it was for (screen mirroring) because you can get confused on a sign, but not on a word. Words are strong, you can’ really interpret them. They say what they say. Images and symbols on the other hand are open to interpretation, always will be.

Those interfaces are not trying to help us, they are trying to keep us in a state.

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