Web developer & user interface engineer
Tinkering with the web since 1996

email: · twitter: @artlung
San Diego, California, USA

Choose a Gift for Phyllis

This time of year is hard.


Clicking through gets me to a grid of easily purchased items under the headline: “Choose a Gift for Phyllis.”

Social media, Facebook, knows who my mother is. It’s smart enough to know that. And in spite of the fact that she died in October, 2010, I can’t bear, yet, to initiate the process of disabling her Facebook account. I know a few other dead people with Facebook accounts, and people occasionally “visit” and leave messages. These messages inspire me. They give me pause. I find them ridiculous. I find them moving. They’re what the word “bittersweet” was made for.

My Mom would have been 67 yesterday. And Sunday will be another Mother’s Day on which I think about her and am not able to give her a corporeal gift. No Starbucks card. No flowers. No mug with a funny message.

Instead what I have to offer is intangible. I choose “whimsy.”

For the last few months I’ve been trying to live my life differently. I am trying to embrace whimsy as a life philosophy. In any particular instance, what is the whimsical thing? What’s more fun? What’s more surprising? What’s going to delight someone?

At work many months back — maybe a year ago now — I started “thought-leadering” the word “delight” as something we should be trying to inspire in our customers. It’s a value that seems silly. “Delight” is a silly word. I read about delight as a value in writings on UX. But I think it’s my Mom, and her silly and fun nature, that set me up to think of delight and whimsy as things worth moving toward–in work and in day-to-day life.

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