Change in my perception of warnings

We have been overexposed to COVID-19 warning messages so much that I have become numb to warnings in other contexts. In this post, I'm going to elaborate on how I think it happened.

After the pandemic became a thing, the COVID-19 warning messages have been put on almost every website in the form of banners or pop-ups. They are informing about possible degradations of the systems, reminding of the precautions, and redirecting us to the official guidelines. Useful stuff. Most of them have the key visual attributes of generic warning messages like striking colors, solid borders, and having exclamation mark signs. I will refer to those as 'attention attributes'.

YouTube search COVID-19 warning

YouTube displays this warning message when a COVID-19 related keyword is searched. Similar warnings also exist in Google search, Google translate, and Twitter search.

The problem begins after the first couple of months of the pandemic, at the time when the messages became a little bit irrelevant. In terms of the fight against misinformation and people's safety, I totally accept the necessity of these messages. However, the fact that the warnings usually not bringing anything new to the table led me to ignore them. I was viewing them just like the cookie disclaimers that I got used to ignoring. Then, as I continue to ignore them, the 'attention attributes' have slowly lost their effect which they supposed to have on my perception.

I was reading a documentation page of a project and then I realized that I skipped a section that is put in a bright warning frame. Later someday, I did not saw a maintenance downtime warning banner on a website. The 'attention attributes' were working in reverse. They were making me ignore the message, instead of pulling my attention to it.

After my realization, I was able to normalize my perception about 'attention attributes' so I stopped skipping the warnings (as far as I know, at least). I'm not 100% sure about the correlation between me skipping a couple of messages and the flood of the COVID-19 warnings, but I find it worth pointing out.