Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Expectations We Have for the Internet and Each Other

I’ve been thinking about expectations we have and the responsibility that comes with having them. What happens when our expectations aren’t met? Does this mean we didn’t have the appropriate one?

I’m feeling hurt by something someone has done and as I wrestle with this tiger of disappointment, I keep returning to the fact that it is my expectation that isn’t being met, not theirs. I don’t think the person who has saddened me has any idea I believed in an action that never came from them.

Was I right to believe that I would be treated in the way I had hoped? Did I, when given the chance, communicate that I wanted something to happen? In this case, I did not. Therefore, the let down is my fault.

We Make Assumptions

We assume the car will start when we get into it and turn the key in the ignition. We assume the check won’t bounce because we have money in the bank. We assume we will love, honor and cherish forever no matter how often the top is left off the toothpaste or dinner consists of “I don’t have time to make it honey.”

All day long, every day, we assume certain things about stuff. We expect our assumptions to be true because we played some kind of part in making it happen. We could make a choice. We had a car key. We put money in the bank. We don’t get upset over crusted over toothpaste. We know how to fend for ourselves.

Assumptions are something we had a choice to participate in. Expectations are not so playful.

We forget that what was perfect in the moment is subject to change at any time because we didn’t count on all the other factors that could possibly influence it to change. Perfection can be wiped out at the second an expectation is not met because we’re hit broadside by it.

Maybe we shouldn’t expect certain outcomes. As long as we do, we lose some of our power.

For example, I expected the “Digg effect” to be a cool, desired thing until it actually happened. Once my right to control my web site’s destiny was in the hands of others, I could only watch this new kind of Internet behavior and hold on for the ride.

Social Media, Internet Experiences and Expectations

A colleague asked me my opinions on social media. She had many questions on the ethics of sites like Digg. She finds bigotry and hatred so prevalent that she wonders why anyone would use social media as a marketing tool for clients or themselves. She wondered if I’d ever want to ban certain types of content. I replied,

“I don’t subscribe to censorship of hate speech because I believe that we’re expected to be responsible for ourselves. That means we each have the huge responsibility of making our own choices and decisions. It means nobody is going to rescue us if we made bad choices. Some decisions will land people in jail or they’ll find themselves despised. As far as I’m concerned, that’s what they created and they have to live with the consequences.”

Communicating our expectations takes courage. Communication can be a desire to know something outside of ourselves.

Instructions in an online form aren’t just there to guide visitors to continue shopping or show how to fill in their phone number fields properly. The words on the page can be a site owner’s way of wanting to know visitors’ expectations so they can meet them better. Do you want to shop more? Great, here’s the button to get you back to where you were and here’s some sale items that would go nicely with what you just put into your cart.

Do you see how this works? It’s so subtle and yet your visitors will understand that your patience and guidance with them means you care about their experience. Not only that, you’re not afraid to show you care and you’re not afraid to offer gentle nudges of encouragement to them.

When you provide acknowledgment that someone has pleased you, they may respond in positive ways that you’ll probably like.

You can do this in human to human contact and human to computer contact. The differences between the two aren’t that vast anymore because there’s a person with feelings behind every email, click, link and button.

Do You Want To Know When You Screwed Up?

When you expect something from someone and you don’t get it, do you tell them you’re upset?

I admire those who can just blast their dissatisfaction with people, businesses, products and services and feel completely at ease with that outflow. Conflict doesn’t bother them in the least. The really clever ones communicate what they want without forcing the other side to overreact or feel defensive.

Some websites offer no place for visitor feedback, nor do they openly welcome contact. If something is broken, site owners don’t want to know or if they do, they want your personal information and phone number in the online form before they’ll even acknowledge you. Therefore, if you have a complaint and want to protect yourself from being harassed for your opinion or complaint, you lie about who you are and where you live.

Sometimes I wonder if I expect too much from myself or others. In the case of the situation on my mind that’s kept me awake at night, I can’t help but wonder if my feelings ever mattered to begin with because they certainly don’t seem to matter now.

I told myself I should have known not to expect to have mattered or been of any importance.

Like websites that weren’t built for all of us to gracefully interact with, some people have a long way to go in understanding that we want to be acknowledged as if we matter.

And if we’re cherished or important, by all means, tell us that too.

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