There is every reason to be greatly anxious these days. I know I am and it ain’t pretty. Anxiety is one of nature’s ways of triggering caution. Yet from anxious feelings panic ensues. And we are living in panicky times. We are witnessing a farcical yet depressing election season. Many people are in debt or have nothing. That’s a good reason. The honey bees are losing their buzz. That says something about our well-being. Oh yeah, and we’re all mortal. What could be more anxiety-producing than the realization of mortality and its consequences?
I have no answer how to relieve anxiety, but I wish, other than blowing into a paper bag, taking Xanax, listening to New Age music or binging on BBC dramas on Netflix, that designers could come up with a tool to alleviate anxious sensations. And I don’t consider blowing into a paper bag an option. And innocuous data visualizations like the one below just make me more anxious.
Good design should have curative powers. At least I always hoped that this was so. But short of being a momentary diversion, good design and good designed things have not decreased my anxiety quotient one bit. Design is just design, if it can’t comfort the brain, it can’t change the world.