Layer between Virtual and Real World

by Francis

It has been two months since I published a post during which the examinations scouted on my head dropping tons of syllabus with concepts to cover, numerical’s to solve, points to remember, diagrams to draw and questions to answer. These two months were bit different like writing a same story ten times but changing it completely on the eleventh time. More importantly due to some series of events a certain topic/phenomenon has been wandering in my head, Layer between Virtual & Real Word.

Just as we assume the harshest conditions technically (coding, web chain, internet, etc) and layer enhancements from there, we can assume interest levels and moods are equally harsh.

“I’d rather be doing something else.”
“I’m in a hurry.”
“I don’t give a shit about this.”
“I’m out.”

While this might not reflect every user’s attitude, there will always be some who are apathetic, bored, rushed, etc.

Consider this in the context of real life. If I call you without prior warning you would expect me to be polite and say something to the effect of, “Hi, it’s Francis. Have I caught you at a bad time?” Common courtesy requires that we assume first that we are inconveniencing others unless we’re told otherwise, showing respect for their time and attention.

Similarly, If I met you for the first time at a cafe and spent an hour talking your ear off about my deepest secrets, or showed up unannounced at your house the next morning you’d rightfully freak out. I know I’d feel violated. Who hasn’t felt similarly imposed upon by overzealous random email subscriptions or overwhelmed by a website that has too many things demanding attention all at once? For relationships to evolve, there must be mutual disclosure and trust. Social penetration theory sums it up well:

As relationships develop, interpersonal communication moves from relatively shallow, non-intimate levels to deeper, more intimate ones. […] It can also be defined as the process of developing deeper intimacy with another person through mutual self-disclosure and other forms of vulnerability.


Online relationships are no different, and we should aspire to design interfaces that recognize users are humans by mirroring this natural process of relationship building. Perhaps common entry points (like home or product pages) should only be responsible for that introductory-level exchange, and things like further navigation or account creation could be taken as a signal to share further: more information, more options, and more permanent connections via Twitter, Facebook or Email.

I think there are a lot of cases on the web where assumptions start at the opposite end of the spectrum, and our behavior online would be considered intrusive and shallow in real life.

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