We all know that a great deal of marketing strategy goes into making an app, more so those apps that go onto become successful and lasting presences in our daily lives.
But what if I told you that part of what makes an app successful is the colour it conveys to us in its design?
What does it say about an app that subliminally attempts to infiltrate the user’s subconscious defences with colour? Should we trust the apps that have utilised these psychological attacks?
Facebook, Twitter, Google Authenticator, the Iphone email app. What do they have in common other than their pervasive and integrated use in society?
They are all blue…
A harmless coincidence, I am sure many are thinking, but when we apply colour psychology, we begin to see that blue means something to the human psyche.
Blue conveys a number of qualities. It is calming and serene, indicating stability, order and reliability. These qualities are foremost indicative of a central core quality that is constancy, which in turn coaxes trust from the observer.
We naturally trust what is dependable and unchanging. This is hardwired into our DNA. Change presents danger, constancy, safety. Our primitive and precursory nervous systems submit to fear above all else, and changes in our perception of it are strong impulses, even now as we use our more developed prefrontal cortex to modulate our feelings and primal instincts.
What else is trust? It does not only relate to our monkey brain response to fear stimuli, but also to the quality of sedation which is linked to calmness and tranquillity. Sedation is the quality of calmness induced usually by drug use. A major class or type of drug, the sedative artificially induces sleep, quiet or calm in the patient. Blue is a natural visual sedative because of the qualities which it carries with the subconscious.
So, your blue apps are constantly signalling, often unbeknownst to you, that they are ‘trustworthy’, that you should be calm and sedated while using them.
Some of you may be thinking, ‘this sounds like a good idea – I would like to be calmer when I use apps!’ And on the surface, it is not a bad idea to encourage trust in users, but we must look at this within the wider subtext of the apps in question.
Almost always, these are apps that deal with sensitive information, personal information, data which, if in the wrong hands, can wreak personal and social havoc.
How many political scandals have involved email interceptions or coincidental ‘misplacement’ of important records and vital evidences? How many times do we need to see Facebook implicated in public data mining incidents like the Analytica scandal?
Almost none of the apps that claim the colour of trust as their own, can be trusted to secure personal information which protects the public. In some cases, these apps are actively deceiving us into selling our information for some universal need, be it connection to one another, or communication in all variety of personal and professional lanes.
With that in mind, one does wonder: ‘What does an app that has no interest in public trust need to convey subliminal trust to its users?’ It is one thing to claim you are trustworthy overtly, but to claim it in such an insidious way strikes of ill-intent from the start.
Take care to consider the colour of the apps that you use. They are telling you something without saying it to you in a way you may consciously understand. Such covert methods must be considered in the light of suspicion.
Blue blinkers hood our eyes. Actions speak louder than words. It is what you do and say, not the colour you convey, which earns honest respect. It is time our social media giants started being trustworthy, rather than dressing up in its colours. We deserve honesty, not trickery, and that your apps are blue, while your social profiles are picked clean by your providers, like carrion for crows, we are no closer to honesty and racing towards deceit.
In nature, dangerous things signal their danger in the colour they display. Yellow is poisonous and red signals danger. The primordial flush of fear we feel is written into our DNA.
Blue is not always order and trust, but sometimes deception and sedation.
The banner must meet the carrier in action, or it is a lie.
Watch for the banner your apps carry. Turncloaks and mercenaries carry many flags, almost always for pride, power or gold.
Earlier, I had ripped through a vortex of pandemic news after drinking three coffees today, my hard limit. I was anxious. So, as I often do when I am highly strung, I meditated.
I meditated for a very long time.
I came to appreciate things that I have not verbalised and perhaps forgotten, but I wish to express them now.
I am so grateful to be alive. To breathe and to enjoy all the sensory experiences life has to offer. I am grateful for my friends, for the laughter and silliness we share every day. I am grateful for my freedom. Not in the sense that I am free to come and go as I please (a circumstantial freedom and one greatly tested in these times), but in that I have my room, with all my things that I love and keep. I am grateful for my job which keeps me fed and clothed and tempers a routine. I am grateful that I can observe change and accept it, rather than fight it.
Who knows how long we have on this planet, but I intend to make everything of the little time each of us spend here, a twinkle in time and space such as we each are.
I am grateful that I am pursuing what I love and working on becoming who I always knew I was, but lacked the confidence and conviction to fully appreciate (apathy, it seems, is quite a childish state). Every day, my confidence in my abilities, my values and my direction in life grow exponentially.
Set backs come, and some will be monumentous, seemingly peak-less, but they are not so. Peak-less mountains break to peak on the patter of persistent feet. One step at a time. Minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, we reach for new heights within ourselves.
So, you see, I am here. I am breathing. I am filled with wonder at my existence. I am unfurling as time intended, as expected, as anticipated. And, I accept this, and, watch eagerly as I and life unfold together.
You may not understand how I feel and I do not expect you to, but I had something to say and so I have said it.
I hope you are all safe, but most importantly, I hope you are living authentically and truthfully, and growing into yourselves every second and at every opportunity.
Life is short, but we can be so tall.
You might be wondering what I mean when I say ‘flashforward’ so let me explain.
You know a flashback? That characteristic, often dramatic plot device, especially prevalent in crime films or thrillers. That device that takes a character back in time to a scene the audience didn’t know about, that now illuminates some feature of the character’s present predicament.
Not just a feature of films, but a very real, often tangible feeling we get as a memory from long ago comes flying into the present.
Triggers. A cat walking across the road. The smells from a bakery on a busy high street. The sounds of a bicycle bell, careering past.
And suddenly, we are back. Transported to a place we had not been to in forever, and a time we had long forgotten.
And sometimes flashbacks are trying to tell us something. They may indicate a desperate need for resolution. They may highlight a spiritual conflict that exists in the present. They may guide us to answers that solve our present predicaments.
But what then of flashforwards? Less thought of, but equally as important to reflect on.
Often the domain of anxiety and existential fear, the flashforward can paint an image of our future selves to us, which, unless we pay attention to, we may in fact inevitably become.
When I fear that I may become old and ill and alone, that I may die with nobody by my side, that is my soul warning me of a future I must work to re-write.
So I may project an image of decrepit isolation into my future, but that is merely a stencil of all of my unresolved fears, pushed forward through time and space.
This is the outline of my pain, the sharp curvature of my shadow-self which aims to rule my present and claim my future.
And like most things that are born out of fear, they have no more power and solidity than we choose to give them. Instead, as I have suggested, we should use this outline to understand our fears better, to address them before we meet that shape in the future and sink into it predictably.
Why do I fear illness?
Because it is painful? Because it is disabling? Because of the lack of control it threatens?
Is pain to be feared if it is inevitable? Is a loss of function really a loss of purpose and agency? Is giving up control always something to be feared?
Thinking about the shape of our flashforwards can guide us to happier futures. This silhouette shows us the edges of ourselves that hem us in in the present and constrain us. Through exploring our projected fears, we learn how to prevent them from becoming our future. We can change our relationship to them and so reshape our reality.
So, though often less mentioned, flashforwards are as important to becoming who we were meant to be, as the flashbacks that define who we are in the present.
It’s a psychic resonance with the future that is a gift, though often it feels terrible. Those of us who are sensitive and thoughtful tend to experience temporal shifts the most and we must embrace it if we are to become the best versions of ourselves. I imagine, like the oracles of old, this is a latent power in many of the more emotionally sensitive and it should not be feared, but nurtured and utilised for good.
Here’s an exercise you can try at home:
Cut out a paper man, just a basic template, a head, two arms and legs.
Write all of your fears around the edges of his/her body, the biggest ones, the ones that really hold you back in the present.
Then, in the middle, write all the ways you can begin to address these fears. You may want an A3 sheet so you have lots of space.
Sometimes, just getting your fears down on paper and creating a physical shape with them, can give you the perspective you need to begin to tackle them.
Or you can journal about them, writing down your most potent anxieties, especially the ones that enter your imagination and project a version of yourself in the future which you desperately wish to avoid.
It’s proven that writing down your fears actually decreases their hold over you. As if the transference from pen to paper offloads some of the burden on your mind. Think of Dumbledore in Harry Potter. Constantly he visits the pensieve to empty his memories into it using his wand. You are doing the same thing when you write down your anxieties.
When you begin to perceive flashforwards as nothing more than the shadow of who you are right now, you can begin to push at the edges and open up your future to brighter possibilities.
Brrrring brrrring! Brrrring brrrring!
This person is filled with hot air.
He bristles and bustles and chokes down the wire.
He’s mad at something, but I struggle to care.
It’s just paint, it’s not worth this ire.
That person talks about what this person did.
They tell the whole office, as if lifting a filthy, secret lid.
‘They spoke to Sally like she was a kid’
The office is shocked and exquisitely livid.
Another found out they had heart disease.
They had just four more years to retire with ease.
She says to me, ‘I’ve a feeling I won’t make it’
She says to me, ‘I worked hard for this, but I might not make it’
She says to me, ‘I worked to spend my time with my husband, but now I might not get it’
I say, ‘You’ll make it, you’ll get it, I’m sure’
I think to myself, ‘I don’t know if she’ll make it. I don’t know if she’ll get it’
I think to myself,
And I bottle it up and don’t say a word, as the world keeps on revolving, dark and absurd.
I won’t take it, but I’ll take it, because I need to work, to earn a living.
So I can live, and die without meaning.
I am a naturally pensive person.
I spend a lot of time ruminating on things.
They can be hopes and fears, dreams and nightmares.
I don’t know why I do it.
To live in the moment, to experience life as it comes, to be, rather than to be thinking about being. You might call this being a zombie, or a drone, or some such kind of non-sentient thing. Something devoid of its humanity. Devoid of its sharpness and its soul.
A fool? The one who does, but never thinks?
I’m starting to change my mind. Maybe I’m the fool.
We live once and die once. We get one life, one slip in time, one moment in infinity to just be who we are. And what does the clever man do? He sits and thinks and never does. While we regard the fool as the one who does without thinking.
What backwardness in the face of living this view is!
Their is some kind of unspoken wisdom, some prescient truth in doers that speaks to the meaning of life. It speaks to the joy of being in the moment, of not wasting time, of being present and connecting with people.
I am so tired of thinking and not doing. And the more I think, the less I do. And the less I do, the more I think about how much I ought to have done, and how much time I might have to do it with the limited beats, predetermined in my heart.
I have only one fear that means anything when the whole of life’s purpose is condensed into a single point and all trivia falls away. I have fear that I did not love enough and was not loved enough by others. I have fear that time will limit my ability to address it. I have fear that my overthinking life will tie me so in knots, that I never address my need for love and my need to give love.
I am 27 now. Life is moving so fast and I have never met someone who I could reveal my heart to and peer in at another’s lit up for me.
I fear that I am empty.
I fear that if someone peaked into my chest, they would find only dust and darkness. That I am incapable of being seen as someone, a person filled with kindness and purpose and love for others. I want to be that person, but I am so terrified that I am empty.
I cannot open up, for I fear what is inside.
So there you have it. Any fear I have in this life comes from this singular fear. That I am empty and will not love, like a dead thing, still breathing and thinking.
I am not scared of death. I am not scared of people. I am not scared of anything, truly, except being seen.