Keeping Up Appearances

Keeping Up Appearances

The past two years I’ve been struggling to stay in touch with people, work colleagues and friends. My unease over global and local uncertainties, big life decisions and a string of illness and health issues in my close network of familiars caused me to turn inwards. In a big way. As an introvert I replenish in solitude and my craving for solitude avalanched.

From afar it’s likely unnoticeable. I keep doing the podcast, publishing my blog posts, posting on LinkedIn, and going through the motions of running a business. But business as usual often does a rather poor job of surfacing the complexities, agonies and bumblings that happen in our parallell existence.

I imagine those who have tried to contact with me will feel a hint of recognition. E-mails will have gone unanswered, as will have phone calls. One friend finally wrote and asked if they had done something wrong.

This was clearly a cautionary signal.

No, I responded. You have done nothing wrong. All these things have been going on and my thumb physically refuses to push the green button when your call comes in. My capacity for meaningful interaction beyond a handful of close friends just ran out and I didn’t know how to find it again.

I am starting to find it again.

Seeing, acknowledging, understanding. All part of taking the first few steps from A towards B. Even when B still feels distant. And how wonderful isn’t it to know there are friends who will be happy to see you no matter how many years have gone by. Who are okay with slow. Who are okay with awkward smiles and stretches of silence.

When teaching digital ethics I always try to convey this overarching idea of not knowing how people are doing, where they are in their lives and what their capacity for taking action to protect themselves looks like. They may not know themselves.

For myself it has proven valuable to assume everyone is going through some or many complex ordeals below the surface. Emotionally taxing stuff in layers and knots. Stuff they may not want you to know. That might sound trivial to you but is a horror for them. That they can not articulate or need time to just digest.

The ability to shift perspective can be healing. It can help me resist anger in the face of upsetting behavior. It can help me accept differing perspectives as equally founded in learning and experience as my own. It can help me forgive my own missteps and injurious actions.

But not always.

In the end we all loose our footing from time to time. Hopefully people will notice one way or another. And offer a possible, but not mandatory, boost. Yet in our own willingness to help it’s important to remember people may need time and space to sit for a while before we rush to pull them up into busy traffic again.

Take care of you, wherever you are,

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Valuable accessibility guidance

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A brilliant free resource hub by Alexa Heinrich for marketers, communication professionals, and digital creators who want to learn how to make accessible social media content.

Continuous Professional Learning

In case you’re not aware, I run the design ethics track in the Ambition Empower program. Big news of the month is that UX Podcast is also partnering with Ambition Empower. This means our shows will be recorded in front of a live audience. Anyone who is signed up to Ambition Empower can join in and listen as we record shows with insightful people from the industry, getting the raw behind-the-scenes unedited experience before the episodes are released. The subscription also gives full, year-long(!) access to learning tracks on several topics, run by design leaders Kim Goodwin, Susan Weinschenk and Chris Noessel, with more on the way.

Read more about Ambition Empower and use the discount code “uxpodcast” to get 1000 SEK off when you sign up.


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Svenska / In Swedish

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