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Blue isn’t exactly the friendliest colour: it conjures up images of vast, unforgiving seas, walls of ice, terrifying monsters, Chelsea FC and questionable boybands. It’s even a byword for feeling sad and dirty jokes. Yet, it’s also the hue of choice for most of the major social media sites and even The Big Tech Question – why?
If, like most of the population, you spend a hefty chunk of your day scrolling through Twitter or Facebook-stalking, you’re probably numb to the sites’ colour schemes and the atmospheres they create. It only takes a slight tweak to show how different they could be…
But why do they look so strange? The answer is simple psychology: red is the colour of anger, blood and passion, while green stands for fertility, growth and jealousy – not really the emotions you associate with uploading family holiday pictures.
Blue, on the other hand, is the so-called “Nirvana colour” that, despite the connotations listed in the first paragraph, represents calmness, security (blue is still synonymous with the police in the UK, as in the Thin Blue Line), trust and communication. It’s why many of the UK’s high street banks – Barclay’s, TSB, Nationwide, Halifax and RBS – also make use of the colour.
Perhaps more importantly, blue is also the world’s most popular colour, as well as being gender-neutral – despite the strict blue/pink demarcation of kids’ toys. It can also be stared at for a long time without straining your eyes, which is essential for social media sites.
However, Facebook is blue for a very practical reason, too: its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, is red-green colourblind, meaning that he can’t distinguish between the two colours. To him, the logos above would look exactly the same. “Blue is the richest colour for me,” he told The New Yorker. “I can see all of blue.”