Overchoice exacerbation.

In 1971, the futurist Alvin Toffler wrote “Future Shock.”
A prescient tome on the personal and societal effects of rapid technological change.
In the book, Toffler introduced the term “overchoice.”
Too many choices.
And with overchoice, Toffler argued, our “freedom of choice” becomes “unfreedom.”
Witness the GOP Primary.
Ohio’s Governor, John Kasich, just announced his presidential candidacy.
That brings the number of choices to sixteen.
Do you think voters are “free” to make a rational decision?
Of course not.
Who has the time to intelligently research and analyze all sixteen candidates?
But they will make a decision.
My daughter teaches at one of the oldest private schools in North America.
She recently sent me an email with the subject line:
“AHHHHH . . . talk about too much choice!”
She was simply looking for wooden pencils for her students.
And an office supply site search returned 52 options.
52 different wooden pencils!
And so she added, “I’m afraid to look at the folders.”
But she will.
And she’ll make a decision as well.
Pencils and politicians.
Two, seemingly, unrelated examples of overchoice.
With consequences that couldn’t be more contrasting.
And what about you and what you do (or sell, create, etc.)?
What does this have to do with you?
I know what you’re probably thinking (because I think it).
“Yeah, but what I do is different.”
No . . . it . . . is . . . not.
Because you are just another choice.
In someone’s head stewing with overchoice exacerbation.
A mind that’s dealing with a hell of a lot more than pencils and politicians and what you (or I) do.
For God’s sake, people can’t even decide which emails to respond to.
So here’s the bad news.
Overchoice is not going away.
In fact, it’s going to get much, much worse.
You can thank technology (especially the internet and smartphones) for that.
And here’s the worse news.
If you don’t quickly come to terms with this reality.
If you don’t viscerally understand how people deal with today’s “unfreedom” and make decisions.
You will eventually feel the exacerbation of their exacerbation.

The problem with pragmatism.

I’m reading a very difficult book.
Martin Heidegger’s What is Called Thinking?
Early in the book Heidegger writes:
“In America and elsewhere, logistics as the only proper philosophy of the future is thus beginning today to seize power over the spirit.”
The mind as a tool for practical uses.
Data, calculation, prediction, problem-solving.
Pragmatism run amok.
And what struck me is I almost stopped reading the book.
Because it’s hard.
It requires slow, deliberative attention.
And, ironically, because I haven’t discovered how it will help me.
With my agenda.
So I almost succumbed to the collective mindset I rail against.
One in which concreteness replaces curiosity.
Information suppresses imagination.
And spreadsheets smother serendipity.
But I caught myself.
So I’ll keep reading his ambiguous writing.
Not for the practicality, the ROI.
Rather for the confusion it creates.
Because it’s doubt that creates knowledge.
It’s wonder that holds the answers.
To the questions we have yet to ask.