If you find yourself stuck in a bad habit of checking Facebook constantly, arguing with a troll on Reddit, or obsessively reading up on the developments in the political horserace, you can download a site blocker to constrain your twitchy impulses.
I'm not immune to online distractions, so I recently decided to check out different site blockers. Each one, claiming an animal mascot, arrives with a unique take on branding and messaging.
For example, LeechBlock, which is a free Firefox add-on, blocks pages with a circle-backslash symbol over a leech.
The metaphor comparing distracting sites to leeches may be well and good, but there's a reason why leeches have never caught on as a familiar corporate mascot. They're gross. Maybe LeechBlock is seeking to inculcate a visceral feeling of disgust every time users try to visit a site from which they've blocked themselves, but the imagery for some users may create a feeling of disgust around the software itself.
Another site blocker called Cold Turkey uses a cute turkey logo.
The namedoesn't fit the product well, however, because when people use a site blocker, they aren't trying to block sites out of their lives forever and go "cold turkey." They're only seeking an enforced respite. When Cold Turkey blocks a site, its message also seems a little wonky:
Why display a black-and-white photo of a lion on a savanna? Is it going to eat the turkey in the upper left corner?
This image is superimposed with quotations that change each time a block occurs, and these quotes don't seem aimed at boosting focus. The one in the screenshot above invites the user to ponder capitalism and consumption. It may make someone feel the urge to Google who in the world Kevin Kruse is. But the quote doesn't express the idea of "you really should be getting back to work."
One site blocker called Freedom, on the other hand, maintains a light touch. When users are blocked from a site, they see a simple green butterfly along with the message "You are free from [blocked site]."
The name, the mascot, and the message align. They're reminding you that distracting sites are weighing you down, but you are now unburdened from them to do what you should be doing.
You don't have to quit cold turkey or pry a leech off you. Just be free.