YLW (Jan 2023)

Monthly follow up from my Year of Living Without. January was grayscale mode on my phone (and Apple Watch).

Grayscale mode on the phone has been an interesting experiment. As many others in various writings and Reddit posts have commented, it does take a bit of time before your brain gets tricked” into what it is visually processing. Once the light bulb goes off, though, it’s pretty jarring how much those saturated and vivid hues really do pull one into the retina beauty that is your smartphone screen.

Steve Jobs, when demoing the Mac’s Aqua UI for the first time said, We made the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.” That’s a pretty good way to describe how you’ll see the colors on iOS’s screen of icons when you toggle the color back on after not having it for several days. The colors are gorgeously rendered and talented designers have done a great job creating icons that beg to be tapped.

I wrote more about the tech aspects of my experiment over on my tech & coffee blog, including how I toggled the color on for obvious necessities like photo viewing/editing and a turn-based variant of the game Wordle that my wife and I play. These little tech tweaks made it seamless to have color enabled when I needed it, and automatically disabled when I didn’t. It’s one removal of friction that made the experiment stick” for me.

Speaking of sticking, it is now February and I haven’t turned color mode back on as a default. I turn it back on occasionally, to view a photo or product or do some quick CSS code behavior confirmation. Sometimes, I do it to simply remind myself how jarring it is to see the vibrancy of the default UI as the rest of the world around me does. I realize that grayscale mode as a default isn’t for everyone. I recognize (and have been reminded by those that love me for me) that this self-imposed removal of color is a bit odd. I’m okay with that, since what I find odd, or rather uncomfortable (bordering on disgusting), is the normalization we’ve leaned into as a society that life happens on the other side of a lickable” piece of glass.

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