These aren't the notifications you're looking for

posted by Jeff | Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 8:24 PM | comments: 0

Scott Hanselman mentioned on Twitter that notifications (on devices) too easily get overwhelming. Mind you, his job is to be plugged in, and community online and in person is his thing. He's pretty damn good at what he does. For a power user of communication tools, I think he's right that there has to be a better way. But for most of us, I would argue that most of what we choose to be notified about is completely unnecessary, and maybe even a detriment to being present in our lives.

I've known people that have to be notified about every little "like" and message, and they never fail to be working in the middle of a cubicle farm unaware of the vibrate feature of their phone. Those people suck. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum. My phone notifies me of voicemail, text messages and when the car is finished charging (via the Tesla or Chargepoint app, the latter in the case of the Leaf, because leaving it plugged in when not charging is kind of douchey). I will often have email visual notifications on (no vibrate), but generally only in cases where my work hours are more distributed because I'm cutting out in the middle of the day for errands or something. Do not disturb is on midnight to 8 a.m.

The truth is, nothing else is that important. I'll be notified when I proactively look at the source. The biggest time suck ever can be social media. My life isn't better by knowing instantly that someone liked a post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. It's just not. When it comes to email, especially if it comes in off hours, it can likely wait until morning. Other random stuff, like Amazon shipped my package, who cares?

I think it's kind of a weird time for us, because we allow technology to do stuff and never ask if it should. The constant drone of notifications is one of those situations. Allowing us to be notified, and therefore interrupted, by things that don't have a big return on investment, is probably not a good idea. It takes us out of the real, present moment that surrounds us, whether it be spending time with family or ordering a burrito. It can wait. Respect and engage with the humans that are in front of you first.


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