Sorrow

The world feels heavy on me right now. White supremacists on the march. An open racist in the White House. Threats of nuclear war. A callous attitude towards the poor, the ill, the poor in spirit.

When your job is about cultivating empathy, doing your work is hard. Even your best days suffer from the tinnitus buzz of a world turning hateful.

And this is as a white Christian cis dude in a liberal city. I can’t imagine how the volume has been turned up for people who aren’t me (tho, admittedly, it was probably already this loud for them.)

How do you do UX in these times? I seriously don’t know. For all the demands that designers step up and be heard, the day-to-day still needs to happen. You wade through the sorrow and push on.

I saw a tweet tonight that brought this sorrow to mind:

I think to even a non-religious person this is true. We cannot attempt to explain this hateful time, or try to rationalize our way through the pain. Our only true response is to love — those we live with, work with, and create experiences for.

And so, I choose love. I choose hope. And I choose to defy the hateful buzz in thought and in action. Because design starts with a love for the people we design experiences for and a hope that we can be better at making those experiences better today and tomorrow. And it ends with defiance — of the status quo, of a world that would rather take shortcuts, of a world that would choose to conveniently stereotype and demean and destroy other people for their own good.

Sometimes it means speaking truth to power. Sometimes it means throwing punches you never thought you’d throw. But true design, full of hope and love, is always an act of defiance.

Author: Dylan Wilbanks

Dylan Wilbanks is a web roustabout, raconteur, and curmudgeon currently practicing as a user experience designer in Seattle. He’s spent over 15 years designing, building, and perfecting online experiences, and every once in a while does a good job. Occasionally, he speaks at conferences like SXSW and Webvisions. He created one of the first Twitter accounts used in higher education, but that was an accident, and he's really sorry about it. With Kyle Weems, he co-hosts Squirrel And Moose, a podcast about designing and building the web, when they remember to talk about it. He likes nectarines. You can read his tweets at @dylanw and learn more at dylanwilbanks.com.