“And let there be darkness…”

Definitely not God
– Just some guy who thought apps in black would look great

When “God” supposedly “created” light, separating darkness from it, he/she probably did not anticipate the human obsession with darkness. Of course, one does not have to indulge in satanic rituals or be an “emo” to be obsessed with it as it comes in many forms. From your wardrobe that mostly features varying shades of black clothes to the black aesthetics of your phone’s applications, our attraction towards everything dark is rapidly escalating.

I’m talking, of course, about the “Dark Mode” – one of the most popular features or add-ons your phone applications or computer applications have to offer you. And developers are not pumping it as fast as people are eating it. Almost any application that supports this aesthete on almost anyone’s phone is running on dark mode.

This is further supported by iOS 13 last year, and Google introducing the system-wide Dark Mode feature on their OS. They claim to have given users what they’ve wanted for so long. Whether or not that’s true, only time will tell, but yes, Dark Mode is spreading like wildfire. Even Nepali apps are getting in on the game, as made clear by the recent release of the update on eSewa – Nepal’s leading Digital Wallet. That made quite a few headlines on a number of tech blogs, which only emphasizes the popularity of Dark Mode. When the release of a dark UI makes headlines on news portals, you know it has some weight.

So why are we so obsessed with Dark Mode?

Well, to me, it certainly looks pleasing. As someone who’s been using a OnePlus 3T for quite a while (nothing to brag about, of course), I immediately remember setting it to the Dark Theme in the settings after buying it, and can’t remember coming out of it ever! To me, it just seemed the right thing to do.

But not everyone does it because it’s the “right thing” to do so. So, why do we really use Dark Mode on almost everything?

Dark Mode is better for the eyes… or is it?

If you’ve ever been woken up from sleep, with maybe a phone alert or something, and have been hit by the whitest & brightest beam of all lights when unlocking your phone, this logic can be hard to argue with. And it happens more often than you care to admit.

phone use in darkness

And it’s easy to see why half-asleep people find it hellish. That white beam of light is responsible for people choosing to go dark. That is not the only reason, however – it only drives home the point that many hate white screens because they find it strenuous on the eyes.

WHITE = BRIGHT

And if you spend your day and late hours on the computer and on the phone, you know how your eyes exhaust themselves. And screen time at night, whilst you’re in bed is even worse. The phone screens and computers, and other screens emit this thing “blue light” which suppresses our sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, and that reduces the quality and amount of sleep.

However, Dark Mode cuts down that emission significantly and can exude a pleasing sight to the eyes.

But then again, there is no hard evidence that our screens can generate enough blue light to actually damage our eyes. Likewise, there is also no evidence that Dark Mode makes reading screens easier.

Yes, Dark mode does that in a dim light setting – that part is a fact. But as far as reading on screens go, it is argued that black text on white backgrounds is best. Because white reflects every wavelength in the color spectrum, that property is best suited for the human eye. That helps the irises not having to open as wide to absorb the white light, leaving them neutral, providing better clarity. While on Dark Mode, the eye has to work harder – in normal light settings.

dark mode oneplus 3t

As for eye strain caused by the bright, white lights, that is only applicable to dim environments, like when you’re sleeping, for instance. Dark Mode can reduce eye strain in low-light conditions, but if you’re reading long chunks of texts on the Dark theme, it can cause further eye-strain due to the irises having to expand more.

Turns out, there are both sides to this coin. And it seems, there’s no Black and White here, only various shades of gray. But the explanation is, use dark mode in dimly lit settings and only when you don’t have to read for long hours. For all purposes, reduce the brightness of your screens or use the “Night Mode” with the yellow hue that’s easier on the eyes.

Dark Mode Saves Battery?

This part is true – it’s clear. Dark Mode saves battery on your devices. Without a dark mode, all that empty white space on your phone’s screen requires more juice, thereby draining your battery. With the Dark Mode, that is no longer the case. Especially, with OLED screens, which can actually turn off the pixels when not in use, exhibiting the “true black” experience.

Therefore, in essence, it does save battery.

But then again, these modern smartphones mostly come with large batteries that last all day, anyway. So, does it really matter? Hmmm…something to think about.

It’s all about the looks…

In the end…no matter what other reasons you tout, those of us who use Dark Mode do it, not to save battery or save ourselves the eye strain – but because it looks fucking awesome!

Yes, there are some who don’t like it at all – and that’s fine. It’s a matter of preference. But for those of us who do, it’s about the aesthetics of it all.

And why does it look good on our screens?

The dark mode interface is so appealing because black does not have any hue, and fits seamlessly with other components, making it more enjoyable. With Dark Mode on, almost any other accent color on the UI works – just like any other color goes with black in our wardrobes. Be it strong red or faint orange, or green, or just about anything. It matches with any color without making it look awkward. Black is something that always looks neat and fresh, and any other color against it always looks almost attractive.

This improves user experience and makes navigating a lot easier. It resonates with you, providing a sleek yet austere aesthetic.

So, we prefer Dark Mode, because it echoes with us – it’s a mood, and much more than any technical arguments.

Because it’s a Dark, Dark World

This may or may not come off as overdramatic, but personally, I prefer Dark mode because it reflects me. It reflects the darkness in my soul. And the dark, dark world that we live in.

The world is sad. There is no Glass. There’s much less to be happy about than there are reasons to be sad. Life is depressing. The biggest fear is not ghosts, or humans disproving the existence of God but the endless marching of time that will eat us alive without accomplishing anything with our meaningless existence. It’s a dark road ahead and the torch flickers from time to time. It’s scary out there, and I cannot make peace with it. So, the least I can do is set up my phone to Dark Mode and reflect all of it.

Too much? Yeah…probably.

But hey, in hindsight, it’s all a simple explanation. We like Dark Mode for the same reason we like our dark shaded clothes – the resonation, the aesthetics, and how it reflects everything else really well. Simply put, we enjoy it.

Therefore…let there be darkness!