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Information overload is something we’re all familiar with. We’re hit from all directions, 24/7, with emails, apps, TV shows to watch and stories to read. All crying out for our attention like small, needy children. App notifications take advantage of our primal response to the color red, while the dopamine hits from likes and comments ensure we come back for more. And it would be an oversight not to mention clickbait; it’s relentless.
Did you know that information overload is not a modern phenomenon? It’s true; the concept was first raised in 1903 by the German sociologist Georg Simmel, who reckoned that city life and all its distractions and stimulations turned its inhabitants into jaded individuals. It seems unnecessary to point out, but Georg of Germany didn’t have to contend with the sensory overload that we do, or face such weekend “trilemmas” as which show to binge watch … or re-watch, as the case may be: “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm”? (I’m behind on my TV viewing, admittedly, but just thinking about “Curb” makes me laugh.)
In the meantime, there’s a quiet rebellion brewing, and it goes beyond limiting our smartphone use or going on digital detox vacations where the absence of Wi-Fi is the principal attraction. It’s about streamlining. It’s about winnowing. In olden times, winnow was to separate the chaff from the grain, but today it is all about the concept of simplifying; chucking out the redundant and superfluous to focus on what’s important in your life or business.
At PMI, where I am senior VP global communications, Mission Winnow (even features on the Ferrari car for this year’s Formula 1 season) is an initiative to demonstrate our commitment to continuous innovation to bring about positive change. Mission Winnow is not about promoting any product—it’s about sparking a conversation about how to constantly improve; to move on from the past and challenge preconceptions.
Today, as we drown in information overload, we all crave a dose of simplicity and uncomplicated pleasures—whatever makes us happy makes us feel secure and satiated. It’s why pets are so central to modern life; they give us unconditional love and are loyal and constant. It’s why we love artisan industries. They play into that narrative of the simple, hardworking craftsman, coffee producer, baker, brew master, what have you.
Examples of the simplification trend are everywhere: TV shows and magazine articles dedicated to de-cluttering your home and life; the fad of clean eating (the idea of eating simple, uncomplicated—usually organic—whole foods) or the “tiny house” movement. Let’s look at that last; when “tiny houses” first emerged as a trend some years ago, devotees were seen as eccentric cranks. Not anymore. Today, downsizing to a small and simple home is a lifestyle choice for thousands. And streamlining is in—whether it’s our homes, our lifestyles or how we work. The truth is, we don’t have the time or space for the stuff that drags us down. In this age of information overload, we could all do with a bit of winnowing.
April 16, 2019 at 06:08AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs