Tension by Design

Yesterday I had the time and fortunate luck to stumble onto Seth Godin's Instagram Live about tension.

He riffed on the fact that creating tension is the process that pulls a person forward toward change. Marketers have used this for a long time to help you make decisions about life. Generally they use it to sell you more and make more money.

Here is an example put forward on the show Brain Games:

You walk into a movie theater, you go through the line and get your ticket. Then you proceed to the ever-expensive concession stand. You want popcorn and you see that the small quart size container is $4 and the gallon size large is $12. If you are like most people, you see the better deal in the small container as you don't want to spend drastically that much more for the large than the small.

The next day you go to see another new movie, only this time you walk in, get your ticket and go to the concession stand and now there is a medium that is exactly a split size between the small and the large and it is $9. Suddenly, your frame of reference for pricing on the small and large is very different. Now, if you are most people, you perceive that the large is now the best deal because you perceive a large savings in the jump from small to medium to large. You buy the large.

These decisions aren't conscious. We are lead around our modern world by our noses and we rarely are aware.

That is the point of this post.
A: Let's all decide to be more aware of the subtle messaging in our consumer oriented world.
B: Learn to use these techniques of tension in your own world to make the world a better place. These techniques aren't inherently bad, it all depends on the level of intent that we put behind our tension.

Riffing a little more, you can learn to see this tension everywhere. The way we get ready in the morning to get the attention of our boss or girlfriend or coworker that we want to impress, The musical tension in a song that makes it go to that super funky bridge, that art piece that makes you wonder just exactly what the artist is saying, the teacher who gives you just enough information to make you want to learn more on your own...

Tension is all around us, and it is up to us to see it and use it for good or let others see it and use it to direct us to whatever purposes they think are good for us.

Which do you prefer?

Jesse Barney