I’m fairly convinced that bad UI design proof that Hell is real and that the demon hordes have pivoted — shifting from lurking in dark corners to pick us off one soul at a time to utilizing technology to torment humanity and to corrode our souls with a slow, steady drip of frustration & irritation.
Giving credit where credit is due the idea of agents of Hell using technology to make human lives miserable originated with Crowely, an innovative demon in Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s book, Good Omens.
Published in 1990, the cutting edge technology was brick sized cell phones that only made phone calls. The internet didn’t exist. Apps still meant the food before a meal.
Yet, Crowely, a demon ahead of his time, sees the potential:
Haustur cleared his throat.
‘I have tempted a priest…He would have been a saint, but within a decade we shall have him.’
‘I have corrupted a politician,’ said Ligur. ‘I let him think a tiny bribe would not hurt. Within a year we shall have him.’
They both smiled expectantly at Crowley, who gave them a big smile.
‘You’ll like this,’ he said.
His smile became even winder and more conspiratorial.
‘I tied up every portable telephone system in Central London for 45 minutes at lunchtime,’ he said.
There was a silence, except for the distant swishing of cars.
‘Yes?’ said Hastur, ‘And then what?’
‘Look it wasn’t easy,’ said Crowley.
‘That’s all?’ said Ligur.
‘And exactly what has that done to secure souls for our master?’ said Hastur.
Crowley pulled himself together.
What could he tell them? That twenty thousand people got bloody furious? That you could hear arteries clanging shut all across the city?
And that they went back and took it out on their secretaries or traffic wardens or whatever and they took it out on other people?
In all kinds of vindictive little ways, which here was the good bit, they thought up themselves. For the rest of the day.
The pass along effects were incalculable. Thousands and thousands of souls got a faint patina of tarnish and you hardly had to lift a finger.
But you couldn’t tell that to demons like Hastur and Ligur. Fourteenth century minds, the lot of them. Spending years picking away at one soul. Admittedly is was craftsmanship, but you had to think differently these days. Not big, but wide. With five billion people in the world you couldn’t pick the buggers off one by one any more; you had to spread your effort.
It seems some of the more enterprising, innovative denziens of hell have run with the idea.
Can you think of a more plausible explanation for Windows?
The dread when you see an upgrade notification, the following low grade fog of frustration & irritation that fill your body as the navigation of an app completely altered after the latest ‘upgrade’ — How could that not be the work of Satan?
How many hours of your life have been lost to trying to figure out a poorly designed website or app? Time that you will never be able to retrieve. Now multiply that times the thousands or millions of others that have had that time sucked from their lives as well. Oh the humanity!
Really, one would have to try to design that badly!
With every new upgrade of my iCrap I find myself hoping there is a special rack in hell for the designers.
But more and more I’m beginning to suspect they are Satan’s IT minions sent here to intentionally develop User Interfaces that coat my soul in a patina of scowley snippiness.
Modern day demons have traded lurking in dark doorways for the dark corners of IT departments. And we now carry the tools of our own destruction in our pockets. With every new install or upgrade of our we surrender another bit of our soul and sanity.
Disclaimer: I’m not saying all coders & IT designers are minions of Hell. I just have my suspicions about the origins of some particularly persistently horrible UI’s — And internet providers, most definitely internet providers…
Photo of Hell’s IT Department: flickr