For decades, the most popular magazine in America was devoted to helping people decide what to watch on TV from among three choices (TV Guide).

How do you decide today? There are too many shows, yet not enough quality. And the quality is spread among too many carriers.

I am upset at the sudden large increase from Spectrum for TV service. I’d like to cut the cord. How many subscriptions will I need to replace it? Will the cost of Netflix plus Amazon Prime plus a new Disney streaming channel plus many more in the end cost more than cable?

Seth Godin calls it cognitive overload in this blog post.

Try shopping at the local “super” grocery store. I’d like to buy a box of cereal. Not so simple.

We have the same thing in evaluating manufacturing technology. Even with industry consolidation on the one hand, we’re faced with IT companies coming in with very powerful edge devices and ever new organizations and consortia. Choosing the wrong TV platform is one thing; choosing the wrong process automation partner carries far worse ramifications.

From Seth—

Here’s my list, in order, of what drives behavior in the modern, privileged world:

  • Fear
  • Cognitive load (and the desire for habit and ease)
  • Greed (fueled by fear)
  • Curiosity
  • Generosity/connection

The five are in an eternal dance, with capitalist agents regularly using behavioral economics to push us to trade one for the other. We’re never satisfied, of course, which is why our culture isn’t stable. We regularly build systems to create habits that lower the cognitive load, but then, curiosity amplified by greed and fear kick in and the whole cycle starts again.

That is where practices such as meditation and breathing come to our rescue. We slow down, focus, breathe, meditate. Slow down Seth’s eternal dance until we can handle it.

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