Those little red dots

One of the best features of smartphones is the ability to notify you when there is something that you need to pay attention to. One of the ways that applications on iOS do this is by putting a little red dot in the corner with a number to denote how many new notifications you have waiting for you. This is a great feature and it really helps with keeping on top of things that are going on. However, it doesn’t take into account a bit of OCD that I’ve seemed to develop around those dots.

Whenever I see a dot, I feel compelled to do whatever I can to get it to go away. Seeing that dot, with a number inside of it, makes me anxious that I haven’t addressed something that I need to do. I actually become slightly compulsive about making sure that my dot count is zero. If I see a dot, I need to extinguish it. If it sits there for a long time, I start to feel like I’ve failed at keeping up with my fast paced social media life (sarcasm).

Thankfully, iOS allows you to turn off that dot on individual applications. If you look at my home screen the only apps that are allowed to get dots are my email applications, Facebook and IM. Everything else from Twitter to Instagram is forced into a no-red-dot zone, never to return. Untappd? No dots. Zillow? No dots.

When I enter these other apps they often show me other dots to get me to click on their notifications, and I’m totally OK with that. When I bring up Instagram there is often a glowing dot under the notifications icon to get me to click through and see who has liked my various photos. But it’s not a red dot on my home screen, and I’m approaching the application on my own terms.

I’m not sure why those red dots continue to bug me so much, but they do. Maybe someday I’ll be able to be comfortable letting them sit on my home screen, staring up at me, begging me to click on them. But for now, they’re staying off, and it makes me feel calmer just thinking about it.

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