Nihilism, accessibility, and the preponderence of amazing co-incidences

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I was feeling pretty nihilistic this morning.

Overwhelmed by having to navigate the dirty waters of capitalism trying to do what I feel is right. Not exactly cheered by the possibility of serious health ramifications from more than 20 years as a heavy smoker. Miserable about how long I’ve been single. Generally lacking in inspiration to see me through another day.

Then to read Molly’s recent post about the state of our industry and community, I became even more despondent, as I remembered how the microformats community and WHATWG are behaving like cabals in their self-interested refusal to acknowledge the accessibility issues with that they’re doing; and how so many of their leading lights are utterly refusing to accept this.

By mid-morning I had my head in my hands, sighing, there’s absolutely no point to anything.

The preponderence of amazing co-incidences

Do you ever find yourself amazed by co-incidence? How several things can come together all at once, in a way that so profoundly resonates, it seems like it must mean something more, that it can’t be just a co-incidence? And have you felt, at times, like this happens so frequently that co-incidence no longer seems like an adequate explanation; that perhaps, it indicates fate?

Well I have, but for me, it’s the preponderence of amazing co-incidences that finally convinced me of the non-existence of fate. If astounding, spellbinding, awesome co-incidences can and do happen every day, then why can’t the whole universe be nothing more than a series of crazy co-incidences?

There is no meaning of life; no cause or purpose to the universe. Faith and spirituality are the ego interpreting reality. There’s no reason for our existence, it’s all just a bunch of stuff that happened.

But that’s not a bad thing. If anything, it’s a good thing, because it gives us the freedom to create reality for ourselves — to decide what we want our lives to be about, and then try to make that happen.

Accessibility and the internet

As far as I can tell, there are two universal realities to our human condition — suffering and joy. I care about accessibility because it affects real people’s lives. Failing to cater for accessibility can and does create suffering; making an effort to ensure accessibility can and does create joy. In the human sense, that’s pretty much the best you can do for anyone — reduce their suffering, and increase their joy, even if only a tiny bit.

I care about the internet because it aids communication, especially for people who are isolated — by disability or geography, by physical, financial or emotional limitations. But capitalism cheapens everything it touches, and Web 2.0 is a capitalist bubble. It’s no surprise that some of us get so disheartened trying to advocate better accessibility. We find ourselves in a situation where things were just starting to get better — the pro-standards and accessibility wave had just begun to really repair the damage caused by the last dotcom bubble. Then suddenly a new one forms, and everything goes to shit again.

Optimistic nihilism

Still, in the wider scale of things, none of that really matters. What we do doesn’t matter, the internet doesn’t matter, and if I woke up tomorrow and there was no internet, I’d just do something else.

So screw the endless arguments. I’m just going to quietly get on with doing what I think is the right thing to do, in the way I think it should be done. And in the meantime, what keeps me going (and what really cheered me up today) is communicating with people — talking, sharing time and energy, flirting ;-) and having a laugh.

What else can we do — each other is all we have.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Nihilism, Accessibility, and the Preponderence of Amazing Co-incidences

What is the connection between nihilism and accessibility?

Nihilism, a philosophical belief that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value, may seem unrelated to accessibility, which is about making things accessible to all people, regardless of disability or other factors. However, the connection lies in the approach to design and development. A nihilistic approach may disregard the importance of accessibility, believing it to be meaningless. On the other hand, an approach that values accessibility recognizes the inherent value in making things accessible to all, thereby rejecting nihilistic views.

How does the concept of ‘preponderence of amazing coincidences’ relate to web design?

The ‘preponderence of amazing coincidences’ refers to the idea that seemingly unrelated events or factors can come together in a meaningful way. In the context of web design, it could refer to how different design elements, when combined, create a user-friendly and accessible website. It’s about recognizing the interconnectedness of various design elements and their collective impact on the user experience.

What is the importance of accessibility in web design?

Accessibility in web design is crucial as it ensures that all users, including those with disabilities, can access and use the website effectively. It involves designing and developing websites with features like text alternatives for non-text content, captions for audio or video content, and options to adjust font size or contrast. Accessibility not only enhances user experience but also improves SEO and expands the website’s reach.

How does nihilism influence web design?

Nihilism, if applied to web design, could lead to a disregard for user needs and preferences, resulting in a website that is difficult to navigate or use. However, most web designers reject this approach, recognizing the importance of creating websites that are user-friendly and accessible to all.

What does ‘preponderence of evidence’ mean in the context of web design?

In the context of web design, ‘preponderence of evidence’ could refer to the overwhelming evidence supporting the importance of accessibility. Numerous studies and user feedback highlight the benefits of accessible design, from improved user experience to better SEO rankings.

How can I make my website more accessible?

Making a website more accessible involves several steps, including providing text alternatives for non-text content, ensuring all functionality is available from a keyboard, and making it easier for users to see and hear content. It also involves understanding and addressing the needs of users with different types of disabilities.

What is the role of coincidence in web design?

Coincidence in web design could refer to how different design elements come together to create a cohesive user experience. It’s about recognizing the interconnectedness of various design elements and their collective impact on the user experience.

How does the concept of nihilism conflict with the principles of web accessibility?

Nihilism, with its belief in the lack of objective meaning or value, conflicts with the principles of web accessibility, which emphasize the inherent value of making websites accessible to all users. While nihilism may disregard user needs, web accessibility prioritizes them.

What are some common misconceptions about web accessibility?

Some common misconceptions about web accessibility include the belief that it’s only for people with disabilities, it’s too expensive, or it’s not necessary. However, web accessibility benefits all users, can be cost-effective if incorporated from the start, and is a legal requirement in many jurisdictions.

How does the ‘preponderence of amazing coincidences’ concept apply to other areas of life?

The ‘preponderence of amazing coincidences’ concept can apply to many areas of life. It refers to the idea that seemingly unrelated events or factors can come together in a meaningful way, whether it’s in relationships, career paths, or personal growth. It’s about recognizing the interconnectedness of life’s various elements and their collective impact.

James EdwardsJames Edwards
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James is a freelance web developer based in the UK, specialising in JavaScript application development and building accessible websites. With more than a decade's professional experience, he is a published author, a frequent blogger and speaker, and an outspoken advocate of standards-based development.

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