Absurdly Driven usually looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Retailers are clever manipulators of psychology.

Online retailers take it to an almost sinister new level.

It's as if they can make us have an impulse, and then satisfy that impulse within nanoseconds.

But does this manipulation of algorithms and human gullibility have its limits?

I ask only because Amazon has reportedly started making its technology do something entirely unprecedented, something that few could ever have imagined. 

It's configuring its website to prevent people from buying so much.

This sounds like twisted madness. Yet, as the Wall Street Journal reported, Amazon simply can't cope with demand during the coronavirus crisis.

So a website geared to maximizing purchasing is among the less helpful things the company can offer.

Out, apparently, are going those clever widgets that tell you what people whom you don't know, will never meet, and likely have nothing in common with have also bought along with some specific item.

Out seem to be going promotions for Mother's Day and Father's Day. I think Mom and Dad have got better things to think about than what gifts they'll be shortly returning.

I believe I've already seen evidence of such changes. I looked at a few books and the "customers also bought" wasn't there. Moreover, Amazon seemed even keener than ever that I should buy the Kindle versions.

Amazon has already said it's prioritizing certain essential items, though the definition of essential varies greatly by locality. 

It should be clear that toilet paper and masks might be more essential than garden tools or cologne, but that hasn't always been the case.

You might imagine, though, that this decision to douse the technology is ultimately self-serving. Normally, Amazon wants to sell as much as it can, but these are extraordinary times.

Then again, it's a fine lesson for anyone trying to sell a product or service, even in better times.

It's easy to lure yourself into believing that more is always better. Every new sale means more profit. Every new customer means more people to sell to.

Yet if your infrastructure can't cope, or if your employees and suppliers simply can't deal with the magnitude of orders, customers will begin to howl.

Soon, you'll have a reputation for unreliability. 

With Amazon, it became clear even before the novel coronavirus that its Prime two-day delivery promise was tending toward wishful thinking.

I certainly found some items arriving on time and others arriving in their own time, which may have led some to wonder whether the increasing cost of Prime membership -- currently $119 -- is actually worth it.

It may well be that Amazon is changing its website only for this particular period.

What, though, if people are significantly changed when this is all over? What if far more choose simpler lives, greater participation in the outdoors, and less obvious consumerism?

What if, in fact, we become more basic in our approach to life and embrace far more of the fundamentals and far fewer of the temporary little surges that come when we buy something we really don't need?

Oh, I know it's easy to believe we'll just slip back into familiar old ways.

But wouldn't it be interesting for online retailers if we didn't?