How Products Like Facebook and Snapchat Provide Relief in the Face of Tragedy

Design For Love, Design for Social Change…

“Oh my God who did I know that was there?” was the first thing I thought when I saw the news on the Orlando nightclub shooting. I had lived in Tampa and had many friends in that area. As a man who grew up in Key West FL. I have a special appreciation, understanding and acceptance for LGBT life. Since childhood I have had many gay lesbian and transgender friends. Key West is one of the favorite destinations for LGBT people to live and vacation so I grew up in what one might call the “Gay Mecca”. This attack has shattered me and I am not even the most affected.

As the Lead UX Designer for CBS Fantasy Sports I am always looking for ways to give the users exactly what they want and need. While our applications focus on the lighter side of life, I am constantly taking ideas and concepts and seeing how they could benefit the world through my own company to promote positive social disruption.

When I logged onto Facebook on the day of the shooting I began to see people marking themselves as safe. A feature that Facebook had apparently been working on for events and disasters just like the one in Orlando. Though the circumstances were dire I couldn’t help but feel a sense of “pride” in this feature. It was meant to “HELP PEOPLE” and that is an amazing thing to be able to create for a user as a designer. As the day went on I saw more and more people marking themselves as ok and gained “some” sense of relief, though there was still no way to know who was alright for certain.

Some of the victims were able to say “goodbye” to their families and friends moments before they left this world. Snapchat allowed them to record their final goodbyes. That is POWERFUL as a product designer. This is a somber example of how design makes a real difference in the world today. This was a truly positive user experience under unimaginably negative circumstances but is something we should strive to improve upon every day we step into work. You have an obligation to not just your current users but the world to use your talents for good.

My heart goes out to all of the lives lost and the hundreds of lives forever changed because of this terrible and horrific tragedy. I wept as I wrote this and it will not be the last time. I knew many people that lost someone and am still not sure everyone I know personally is safe.

Design for Love because to do anything else is…