The future of prescriptive lifestyles + diagnostic living stems from a number of factors and influences. With the rise of technology and the increased use of design within our current society, people have become more reliant on finding curated solutions and faster results. In a way, this type of lifestyle rises from design but is perpetuated by the human need of trying to find quicker and better ways to continue living. As people search for these types of prescriptive answers to their problems, the life they live becomes binary and the definition of what is normal becomes warped. No longer are people able to simply be themselves, as there is always a way to “become better”, whether that means acting, looking, thinking, or feeling the “acceptable” way. And in this way, we can become stuck and controlled by the very means of diagnosis and prescriptions, which initially were a breakthrough in alleviating illnesses. It’s strange to think that with the changing landscape in technology, business, medicine, and more, we are pushing forward faster than we can follow and, in the end, may even be dragged along.
The designers within this extended world and scenario are both acting to both oppose this from happening and acting to continue it. We can see this even now, where there are select groups of people who ultimately opt for organic, natural foods and alternative medical treatments because of the side effects of medicine and the artificiality of medically controlling bodily functions. On the other end, there are also those in the pharmaceutical field who push to develop new drugs to cure high impact sicknesses, biomedical designers who aim to aid those with disabilities, amongst others who continue to push the field further with good intentions. Part of this world’s problem also derives from the current issues of capitalist healthcare and the current business oriented community design lives within. This is because there isn’t a balance in acting or opposing because the people involved don’t understand the scale of impact or are too focused on profit.
A common brief designers would see would be medical or lifestyle related. Instead of solely designing the new UX/UI for a technological product, designers in this world will probably also constantly work with doctors, medical lawyers, and business owners to design new medical brands, pharmaceutical or medical systems, marketing campaigns, and even bridging emerging technology with new ways to self-diagnose, digitally shop, and maintain a “healthy and perfect” lifestyle.
This wouldn’t be a future I want to be part of creating, because I think it lacks a balance between designing and how design can impact human habits and behavior. I want to design to improve how people can live but not control how we live. Designers now can prevent this by thinking about that fine line of “degree” — design, but not to what extent. Specifically, designers should be able to understand the impact of their work and also to remember their initial purpose of design and intention. I think this future could shift in a more positive light, depending on how we act. In a way, in this world, mental illnesses may be less stigmatized and seen as a medical problem instead of a “phase” or anything less so. I would want to be part of creating a world like that. To create one world and not the other requires a lot of thought from designers — whether it’s the ability to link action to consequence or to think in terms of larger systems of product, service, behavior, social impact, nature, etc., or to know when to stop. Even with our world now, we don’t need design for the sake of design, there is always a balance that needs to be found. This balance could just as easily be lost if designers focus on the wrong priority.