There is an unhealthy addiction to politeness in our society. Political correctness smooths out the interesting wrinkles of conversation into dull hydrogenated oils and empty conversational calories. So much has it infected orthodox behavior, especially what is righteously considered to be right, that we’ve spread the disease to our creations, namely computers and their software.
At what point does saying “please” or “thank you” or “I’m sorry” matter when the interface is explicitly mechanical. The result is inevitably facetiousness, unintended yet imminent. How enraging it is for someone to tell you to “calm down and be happy” when something is wrong, so therefore it’s easy to see how much worse it can be coming from an unfeeling machine merely parroting the same gooey-soft words. Not only is it a dumb terminal to some programmer’s broken promises, but no longer a conduit to the solution itself but cut off in the manner of a rock, an island. There’s nothing quite being infuriated by an inanimate object pretending to be animate.
Why then is so much time wasted on pseudo-friendliness of interfaces? Practicality trumps friendliness for I know of no one amongst my colleagues, friends, or family who actually wishes to buddy up to their computers, their programs, or any of their hardware. Sure we might say we “love” them, but it is anything beyond a fond obsession at best? They are our slaves, toys, tools, and distractions; virtual companionship is a niche offshoot grounded currently in a swampy foundation of wordy failure. If it works, we love it; if it fails, we hate it — regardless of sweet or sour language and I’d prefer it not to apologize.
Finally, I would appreciate simpler software but it is an impractical ideal when created by corporations. For now, in the interim until open software finally surpasses commercial, let’s stoop down and present the bare naked errors to end users when the click the “Details” chevron. If you have nothing to show then your reporting mechanism is broken. If you have too much to show then your error system is broken. Perhaps both of those are axiomatic among today’s frameworks, but it is also a realizable ideal.
P.S. — The statement I loathe the most to see is “Please wait”, here the computer is politely asking me to do something rather than simply informing me of what it’s doing. I’ll make my own decision as to whether or not to sit idle drooling in front of my monitor, thanks.