6 min read

Wear Protection

Wear Protection
this is supposed to be a guy wearing protection. funny interpretation i guess.

It's always a good idea to wear protection.

Thousands of years ago, it was pretty standard for people to walk around with some type of protection.

Some people wore armour 🛡️🛡️

Other people wore robes and a holy book 🛐🛐

Some even relied on magic & potions 🪄🪄

But times have changed...

From having to fight off bandits, demons, and evil spirits to fighting traffic, burnout, and mass media. Our lives have changed dramatically.

Protection nowadays needs to look different.

Protection needs to be psychological.

There used to be a time when your physical safety was always at risk. Leaving your home meant entertaining a genuine possibility that you wouldn't come back.

Modern life looks a lot different, eh?

Don't get me wrong, we're still getting attacked. It's just that the dangers look different.

Dangerous how?

Let me explain. As much as the world is a beautiful place to live in, there exist people, let's call them behavioural engineers, that seek to manipulate your behaviour to help serve business metrics.

These aren't bad people. They're just doing their job. The problem is that we're not AWARE of the "traps" they lay.

They design experiences that "force" us to give them our time, money, and attention. You can't blame them for doing so, we all signed the terms and conditions, remember? It's all fair game...

So! What do these traps even look like?

A wolf in sheep's clothing

Here's an example:

An example of confirm-shaming

Looks pretty benign right?

Here's another:

Look at the bottom 2 checkboxes.

Both of these examples use manipulative designs.

The 1st uses a technique called confirm-shaming. It's used to shame users into taking a desired action. Which, in this case, is switching to the latest Gmail version.

The 2nd doesn't use a technique but instead tries to confuse its users. Pay close attention to the 1st checkbox, "Please do not send me details..." Most people will just ignore that box, which forces them to OPT into the service.

On the outside, you may have never noticed it, but our behaviour is ALWAYS being manipulated in very slight & subtle ways.

Did you actually choose?

If you reflect on the last thing, you purchased. Did you CHOOSE to buy it? Did you feel like YOU decided to buy it?


Did you feel like you were compelled to purchase it? Maybe a friend was using it or you watched an ad about it. Like a wave of desire suddenly washing over you, causing you to whip out your card and buy it.

We're being manipulated.

Now, I don't want to sound like one of those people with microwave-safe hats.

But its not only true. It's an industry.


Gamification basically means creating experiences with game elements that encourage people to perform desired actions.

You see this a lot with SaaS products. After completing a major action, you may get confetti on the screen with "WOW! GREAT JOB!"

Why do you think they do this? For fun? No.

They do this to reward you for completing a desired action. This is important, because its reinforcing that behaviour. They WANT you to keep using their service.

But... Manansh. Isn't that what they're supposed to do.

Yes, but in the wrong hands it's manipulation

"With great power comes great responsibility" - Uncle Ben.

If we want our product to be successful, we want people to use it. And if using certain design elements get us there, then why not?

I agree. I think gamification can really change the world for the better. It can also help businesses succeed. But it can leave a BAD taste in the mouth of your users. So much so that you might end up on a site like: https://www.deceptive.design/

We need to look at this in a different way...

What we need is a robust understanding of WHY we're getting manipulated. Once we know that, then MAYBE, we can free ourselves from this game!

Enter Yu-kai


Yu-kai Chou is a fascinating character. I won't dive too deep into his story so let's instead take some time to learn about his framework that explains why we're getting hooked.


The framework

So you might be thinking: what the hell is this weird blue shape ?

This is the 8 CORE HUMAN DRIVES that sustain ALL behaviours.

They are:

  1. Epic meaning and calling
  2. Development & accomplishment
  3. Empowerment of creativity & Feedback
  4. Ownership & Possession
  5. Social Influence & Relatedness
  6. Scarcity & Impatience
  7. Unpredictability & Curiosity
  8. Loss & Avoidance

Everything you've ever done was informed by 1 or more of the above drives.

Click here to learn more.

These core drives are used against you.

will explain these axes

If we further split up this shape into 4 quadrants, we can map each core drive based on if its either:

  • White hat
  • Black hat
  • Extrinisic
  • Intrinsic

We'll keep an eye on the black hat core drives, those that are below the horiziontal line in the above image. (I will go into the others in another post)

Black Hat Core Drives Invoke Urgency

Companies will use core drives like Scarcity, Loss avoidance, and Unpredictability to get you to move, NOW!

This might look like:

Ad copy uses black hat core drives to increase urgency around their offer.

Or it might look like:

likes! retweets! comments!

Social media services often use the core drive of "Unpredicitability and curiosity" to keep you coming back for more.

Each time you post, it's like gambling in the casino. You don't know how much social capital (likes) you might be able to win. So you keep trying your luck. Posting and posting. And on the flip side, often turning on your phone to check and see how much "money" or likes you've won.

Who wins? Not you. The social media company does. The house does.

i guess humanity was dealt a bad hand.

We can take our power back.


By using the same 8 core drives.

Know thy enemy

If all these companies, governments, and organziations are weaponzing our core drives against us. The solution is simple. Use those SAME core drives to bring you back to normal.

Exercise: In 5 parts

are you being manipulated by these things?
let's evaluate this thing against the 8 core drives
NASTY! It's using black hat techniques!
we acknowledge this

Awareness & Knowledge Are The Solutions.

Just remember that anywhere you go, you're being manipulated. But now, you have the tools to evaluate HOW you're being manipulated. And now have a choice as to whether or not you ACTUALLY want to play along.

There is much more to say about this topic but that is all I'll leave you with.

Be aware of what you're taking in. Evaluate it against the 8 core drives. Then make a desicion.

With love,

Thank you to Alyssa, Eli, Drew and Emma for being AWESOME!