The only way to impact the world around you and change the outcome of your life is by the choices you make. Everything else is out of your control.
So what happens when there are too many choices? What then?
I hear this from young people all the time. The double-edged sword of the information age is that there’s simply too much of it. Not just information but even more misinformation. Or is it disinformation?
Don’t even get me started on media. Not that I would go back to the five channels of my childhood, but still. A thousand cable and satellite channels. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, DirecTV Now, YouTube, an ever-growing array of over-the-top packages and bundles.
No wonder we all listen to music curated by Pandora, Spotify and Apple. The notion of going online and buying any song you want sounded cool at first but quickly became too daunting for the average listener. Let someone else figure it out.
Last week the wife sent me to Walgreens for flu medicine. She said she wanted daytime and nighttime, also those Theraflu packets you mix with hot water. Also medicated sore throat and cough lozenges.
Turns out there was an entire aisle – countless combinations of chemicals, ingredients, flavors and delivery systems. I had to call her three times.
I used to joke that I could never run marketing for a candy or condiment company. I mean, how often do you get to launch a new kind of ketchup or candy bar, like every five years? I’d be bored out of my freaking mind.
Well guess what? Heinz just launched a crazy combination of mayo-based condiments. There’s Mayomust (mayo+mustard), Mayochup (mayo+ketchup) and Mayocue (mayo+barbecue sauce). I guess somebody already came up with Muchup and Ketchard. Wonder what the difference is?
Ever been to a Total Wine & More? I mean, I know wine, beer and booze and I still feel overwhelmed going in there.
Fewer choices is actually a big part of the attraction for shopping at Trader Joe’s and Costco. You either like what they have or you don’t. It’s a binary choice. Easy.
That’s sort of why I shop for dress clothes at Nordstrom. I just go there, find a sales person, tell her what I’m sort of looking for, she brings out a bunch of choices and together we whittle them down to a purchase. I could never do that myself or online.
Of course, this is the problem that led to smart AI recommendation engines we’ve all become dependent on without even realizing it. We don’t just buy consumer products that way – we also find potential employees to hire and people to, well, you know. Which is ironic since tech caused the problem and now we need more and more tech to solve it. Talk about a smart product strategy.
It’s probably just a matter of time before we can have pretty much anything we can imagine but it’s going to take an AI supercomputer like IBM Watson to figure out what that is and then find it … or create it. Wonder what that’s gonna cost us?
Think we’ll ever be able to find love that way? Call me skeptical. Besides, it sounds really expensive.