Notifications are out of control

2020-05-20

It seems that notifications these days have lost their meaning. Companies do not seem to respect people's time and constantly want to shove their "content" down their throats. It amazes me how far they go to draw people's attention to them at all times. This post was born after waging several notification-wars with various apps I use.

Alas have mercy from oldbookillustrations.com

Twitter

Twitter seems to think it knows better than me what I want to be notified about. It prompts when someone I follow, likes, or retweets from someone I don't even know. And to make things worse, they won't let me disable it. Instead, I can choose to "See less often". This is like letting me tell them: "annoy me less often; otherwise, I will completely snap. Instead this way, you can slowly drive me crazy. Thank you".

What I want to be notified about is as few things as possible and only the most important. Most of the time I want to know if someone messaged me, unless it's spam. And maybe I want to know if someone mentioned me, but most likely it's less critical so it can wait. I wish Twitter would respect that.

Browsers

One of the worst browser features created in the last few years was the built-in browser notifications that let websites send you a notification when something "important" happens.

To this day, I've yet to see anything I would like a website to send me a desktop notification about. The few things I want to hear from a website are better delivered by email.

Thankfully they do let you disable that feature, but they don't make it easy. You can't just click the notification area and select disable these kinds of notifications. No, you have to go digging into the settings and try to guess what they call it. Or look it up online.

Instagram

Instagram has lately started showing a red "1" at random times on my iPhone. As if I got a notification or something happened. When I open the app, there is nothing to be seen. I have no idea what is causing it, but it is driving me nuts. I feel like they are just trying to trick me into using the app, but know nothing important can happen on Instagram, so they don't even try to show me anything. It's like a psychological trick to get me to open the app, and hopefully, by the time it's open, something pretty caught my eye, and I forgot why I opened it.

Slack & Discord

Both of these two services assume by default that you want to be notified of nearly everything. It's like going to a party and having everybody jump to you and try to tell you something you must know, while ringing cowbells, all at once. How could anyone think this is something people would want? Let us opt into the few things we find important in a simple way and leave the rest turned off.

In the end, it's just frustrating

I feel like companies have gotten really out of line with their aggressive notification practices. I would recommend them to take a step back and think about how they would feel if someone was standing behind them, tapping their shoulder, and then telling them whatever they sent a notification for—then deciding if they would respond to that in a positive, neutral or negative way. If it's anything but positive, then don't, don't send that notification. Please.