What do designers have to do with the world’s problems?

The world is upside down. When you watch the news, it looks like the 3rd World War is coming. You see your foreign friends being discriminated more than ever. You get anxious and sometimes depressed. The big question is: what can I do?

Looking for the cause

In 2005, a study conducted by Arizona State University concluded prejudice is hard-wired into the human brain through evolution as an adaptive response to protect our prehistoric ancestors from danger.

“By nature, people are group-living animals… It was adaptive for our ancestors to be attuned to those outside the group who posed threats such as to physical security, health or economic resources, and to respond to these different kinds of threats in ways tailored to have a good chance of reducing them”. Says Steven Neuberg, ASU professor of social psychology, who authored the study with doctoral student Catherine Cottrell.

If by nature, we use prejudice to protect our group, the actual moment doesn’t help at all. Jobs are disappearing because of technology. Very soon we will be living together with robots powered by AI, they will do all the hard work for us. This fact is causing a lot of stress; people are afraid of their future.

Security goes down

Prejudice goes up

But, is there a solution?

Definitely yes! And definitely with technology. The point is that technology is solving all our problems related to our health and economic resources.

For the first time in history, we are about to have enough resources for the whole humanity. We don’t need to protect our group’s food, energy; our basic needs soon will be abundant.

Technology is also liberating us from the dirty, meaningless jobs.

We shouldn’t be living in the economy of scarcity anymore; We have the chance to live in peace!

This complicated process of changing society can take a long time. But we have a solution to accelerate this process; it’s called: the internet.

On the web, information can spread at the speed of light, but it needs our participation.

Political billboard in Berlin. Design activism
The digitalization changes everything. When does politics change? - Asks one candidate in Germany.

We should be more aware of politics, economy, technology. We should be thinking how we are going to rearrange our political system, society, and economy.

Read this interesting article. Watch “Banking on Bitcoin” on Netflix.
Do you know anything about Blockchain?

Start thinking about these themes. And share, share, discuss.

How can designers help?

Graphic design activism started a long time ago in the 1860s with the Suffragette movement. The voices of graphic designers regularly bubble up during times of social and political change. Recommended book: Design Activism by Alastair Fuad-Luke.

If you feel you should do something about it, you can start side projects to spread this kind of information. Find your tone. You can be more explicitly like Emory Douglas, or funny like Banksy.

design activism: suffragette movement
Dunston-Weiler Lithograph Co., New York, Collection of Steven H. Jaffe
design activism - sexuality
design activism - Emory Douglas
Emory Douglas in 1969
design activism - Cinismo Ilustrado
Cinismo Ilustrado
design activism - fight poverty
Design activism - Banksy

But for many people, politics, society, and economy are not exciting topics. If that’s your case, craft your art around love.

"It's already been sung, but it can't be said enough. All you need is love!" - Loveboat Captain, Pearl Jam.

Be part of projects like We Stand Together. Or do something like our Kiss Fun Facts project, to remember people of things that matter most: love, compassion, collaboration.

Spread beauty, love, and information.

I leave you with a big

Roberto Simões

Product Designer with coding skills that cares about UX. Always trying to increase his productivity and never gives up a challenge.