TOO MUCH CHOICE
I plead guilty!
Every morning when I get up, there’s only one certainty: there will be coffee. I’m happy I don’t live near a Starbucks coffee bar. If that was the case, my day would start as a real choice nightmare. Did you know Starbucks prides itself on offering 80,000 different drink combinations? Between the choice of beans, roasts and origins combined with the choice of drinks and add-ons, this is enough to start your day with a heart-rate going at 180.
So I start with coffee. The same coffee, every day. The rest of my early hours, days, weeks and months lately seem to be filling up with more and more choices. These very often seem more like choosing between pest or cholera and leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
In 2005 Barry Schwartz, a psychologist, wrote the book ‘The Paradox of Choice’ in which he made the analysis that the more choice you have, the more paralyzed you become and thus the more dissatisfied. Schwartz gave an interesting TED talk on the paradox of choice, that could have been giving yesterday.
Supermarkets in 2005 offered hundreds of choices in every product category. Phones without too many options were not for sale, gender became a choice and families struggled with choosing between marrying, not marrying, having children now, later or not at all. The fact that you could (already in 2005!) work every minute from every day on every location possible, was one of the elements that forced us into making choices over and over again. Almost 15 years later, we live in a society that is still suffering from a total choice overload, and even the number of channels that offer you help with this process are so overwhelming that choosing who can assist you can make you nauseous.
Between 2005 and today however it seems an extra burden has been added to making choices which is a continuous feeling of guilt. It seems you can never quite make the right choice anymore. This becomes particularly visible in supermarkets. Well, we shouldn’t go there in the first place, we should support a local entrepreneur, right? We go the supermarket by car, better hope it it’s not a diesel, gasoline is better. Best of course is electric, although we still don’t know how to recycle those lithium batteries. Perhaps we should have our groceries delivered at home. With a bike of course.
Once we’re in the store, other questions arise. The meat department? We need to eat less meat, so we need to go for fewer meat but locally sourced. Besides, we should eat more veggies anyway. Veggie department? Are these locally sourced? Sustainably grown? Organic? Are they pre-packed, wrapped? In plastic or paper? Maybe some nuts then. Don’t choose almonds, they’re growing them by using zillions of water. That can’t be good. Perhaps a bottle of milk will do. No wait, are you crazy? Did you know you need 2 acres of land to let one cow graze? Soft drinks then? No way! Sugar is the new fat, why isn’t this illegal yet?
It seems on top of our choice overload, we now get a culpability as well. More choice, more paralysation, more unhappiness, more guilt. To quote Schwartz: “When there’s a zillion choices and you are not satisfied with your choice, the only one to blame is you. You could’ve done better, the world offers enough options. You made the wrong choice.”
When it comes to the wrong choices, self-blame has never been bigger. Online shopping has even added a new layer to the overload of self-blame. More and more people spend hours searching and comparing. Once they have finally bought something, search engines keep chasing them with their short-listed options. How’s that for creating some post shopping anxiety?
Now that is of course where Indiandribble comes into play. An important and still growing part of our responsibility (as an event and activation agency) is to take away all the ‘stressy shizzle’ that surrounds the projects we are entrusted with. We have a pretty good client retention rate since our regular clients trust us with making the right choices for them. Like we said: less choice, more happiness. 🙂 Give us a call (+32 2 217 05 48) if you like to be happier as well!