To be "digital", or not to be?

Niki Volonasi Niki Volonasi
04 - 08 - 2020


Emotions such as enjoyment play a crucial role in our live and digital experiences. From a design perspective, you want to design and create worthwhile experiences. There are still several aspects of our socialization and interactions that although they can be digitalized, they do not result in the same feeling of enjoyment as live ones.

For example, at El Niño every last Friday of the month we have a movie night at the office. It is a time for us to connect, chill and be together. Due to the Coronavirus measures, this could not take place, so Netflix Party had to be used. The movie was good, many people joined and shared pictures of their setting, watching with their family and friends with some beers at hand. But there was a vital feeling that was missing, at least from my own experience; the warmth of sharing the same space with my friends and colleagues. At that moment where we were all watching the same movie at the same time, spamming the side-chat, I felt much less connected.

Working out

As another example, some of you might have joined one of the many "live workout sessions" on social media platforms, like my sister and I have done. Working out is crucial for our physical and mental well-being and there are many trainers that are now willing to help during these times, by sharing and expanding their workouts to everyone's living room. For all of you that have joined a workout session in the gym, you probably have felt the rush; when you look at everyone's tired face, pushing towards a common goal, and when you listen to your trainers' advice (central to prevent injury) and motivational phrases to boost you up. All these together, make the experience different and more satisfying.

The big questions

In the end, it all comes down to biology, all these physical experiences together, release a little bit more dopamine, serotonin and other hormones, which make us feel happier. I know that most of these new digital experiences that I mentioned are just trying to adapt to the latest difficult times, but they were enough to make me start thinking a bit more general. "What if those increase in the future and try to be the "next normal"?

So now, my psychology-trained-self is protesting, and would like to ask you:

How many things can and should be digitized?

How many of our experiences should be replaced by a screen?

How could we close the gap?

Niki Volonasi. Niki is an UX designer at El Niño and is applying psychology principles to digital experiences with great success. Niki Volonasi. Niki is an UX designer at El Niño and is applying psychology principles to digital experiences with great success.

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