This is something that I learned about years ago, and found it completely fascinating, and it has also been a lesson that has helped me understand what is really going on in many places, including with technology:
“The physical world is full of design choices like this—seemingly random decisions that are actually made with intention, because of a specific agenda. Software isn’t any different.”
Everything that exists in public, is there for a reason. The people who put it there want you to do something, and have often studied the best ways to get you to do something.
In the article below, they compare malls, and grocery stores, with Facebook, and other tech tools. The comparison is apt. When I first learned about this concept, the case studies were malls and grocery stores, especially convenience stores. There’s a reason why most malls are laid out almost exactly the same way. There’s a reason why the most common items you’d run into a grocery to buy, are in the back. If you could run in, and the milk was right by the front door, you’d grab it and go, and never see anything else you might want to buy.
Similarly, there’s a reason why the record stores in the mall (when we had record stores) were always way out of the way in the corner, and why food courts are usually in a corner as well. That’s where teens tend to congregate, and the owners of the nice jewelry stores would prefer not having groups of teens near their stores.
It’s also why, every once in awhile, stores will all start remodeling and rearranging. Customers have gotten too used to the layouts and started literally not seeing the things they were walking by. Can’t have that, so change the layout, and make them pay attention again to what is around them.
Sounds a lot like Facebook, right? But, it’s not just Facebook, it’s everything, from your applications, to the websites you visit, to the emails that are sent to you. They are all evolving constantly in order to serve their agenda, which may or may not be yours. If you want to stop doom-scrolling, or take better control over false information and your own mental energy, it pays to consider what their agenda is, and why it is what it is, and whether you agree.
That’s why you should go read the article, and think about, what it is YOU want to do with these tools, and how they are pushing you to something else.
You can’t fight it until you see it.