Desperation Notifications

Social media platforms are leaning into deceptive design patterns to capture your attention but they’re just contributing to our growing “notification anxiety”

Robert Stribley
4 min readDec 9, 2022
A MidJourney prompt for “an overwhelmed looking person being surrounded by a cloud of social media notifications, alerts, style of Russian propaganda poster” — shows a young man surrounded by a dark cloud composed of various types of notifications
MidJourney prompt for “an overwhelmed looking person being surrounded by a cloud of social media notifications, alerts, style of Russian propaganda poster”

They’re on the rise. They strike at you from a new angle every day now. Enticing you. Striving to pull you onto platforms you’re now trying to avoid. You’ve turned off so many notifications, but they just keep coming.

Let’s call them “desperation notifications.”

Facebook with declining engagement, platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are minting new types of notifications all the time now in a desperate attempt to maintain your engagement. They’re often deceptive design patterns crafted to look like the content pertains to you, specifically, although it doesn’t.

A screenshot from my iPhone shows LinkedIn telling me that my pals Marko and Jonathon have notifications for me
A screen shot of a recent LinkedIn notification I received. Yes, that’s Ryan Gosling peering into the frame.

I got one like this one above this morning from LinkedIn, which read something like, “John Smith has a post for you.” I suspected this wasn’t the case, but I clicked through to confirm my suspicions and sure enough, John Smith did indeed have a post, but it wasn’t for me, specifically, and though John is a super nice…

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Robert Stribley

Writer. Photographer. UXer. Creative Director. Interests: immigration, privacy, human rights, design. UX: Technique. Teach: SVA. Aussie/American. He/him.