We see multiple alerts every day: signs on the interstate warning of construction ahead; marketing campaigns advertising something “new;” the flash of the lights on a police car; and even hand-written notes from “The Management.” Every day, all around us are distractions. Alerts that at some point were new, but have slowly faded into the landscape of distraction.
Here is a picture of a McDonalds drive-thru alerting customers that there is an “Outside Order Taker Present.” This sign is always there and the order taker is only sometimes present.
New is powerful. The headline on a newspaper catches your attention. The feature story on the website is attention-worthy. But if the same story runs every day, then it’s not news. It is simply distraction abuse. The real danger in abusing your ability to distract someone is that eventually eroding trust. Remember the boy who cried wolf?
This Google Street View cannot capture the haggard “puppy” announcing the Puppy Sale. Now going on the 10th year, he’s lived the equivalent of 70 puppy sales.
The thing about trust is that you have it until you don’t. From outdated marketing campaigns to even the OPEN signs in the retail window, there are rules to alert people, or you risk becoming ignored. If you are going to alert, if you must distract, then make damn sure that it is timely, relevant, noteworthy, and applicable, and for the sake of all things noteworthy in the world, stop alerting the second you are able.