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(Telegraph)   Boo-hoo, there are too many things to choose from   (telegraph.co.uk) divider line 130
    More: Asinine, Westerners, personal freedoms, selfishness, affluent, channel, empowerment, Stanford University, Journal of Consumer Research  
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17354 clicks; posted to Main » on 22 Jan 2010 at 7:44 AM (4 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2010-01-21 11:48:57 PM  
The solution is for the government to take away most of our stuff and give it to other people.
 
2010-01-22 12:02:16 AM  
Free will is both hell and heaven. (sorry Sartre I stole you shiate whilst you were all goo-goo eyed and French).

For example, I chose not to click on the link. La-la-la-la-la! I'm dancing with critters, IN MY OWN HEAD! They're cute mind you, cuter than I'll ever be! LOL! As IF!
 
2010-01-22 12:10:59 AM  
There's a lot of good stuff in this article. (Sorry Farkers)

After a couple years of deciding if I had enough money to feed myself after taking care of rent and the kids' needs, I received back pay as the result of a promotion. That was the hardest $3,000 I ever spent because there were so many choices to make. Living in survival mode was predictable and there was a lot of comfort in that.

Contrast that to the 'typical' middle-class lifestyle. Discretionary money and so many places to use it. Choices in medical care (for those who can afford it) and good nutrition are massive. How do we make sense of all that science is throwing at us, coupled with a good dose of marketing of course? Is fish good for us? Or is it too full of mercury? Is a holistic approach to health care superior to the current specialized care I always run into?

Think about this: Jobs that no longer require us to use our physical bodies enough to keep us in good shape so we have to choose how we will maintain our bodies and set time aside just for that purpose. We have mandatory choices to make now too.

And I know a charming young man who had every option open to him upon graduating from high school. Top notch colleges were begging for him to attend. It was all too much pressure for him. He made a choice, couldn't hack it, and ended up feeling so burned by his own decision that he has been afraid to make any significant decisions since. Even though, after a decade, he has lowered his standards, he is still extremely reluctant to make a decision that could have a major bearing on his future. So he makes a decision by not making one - just keeps to his sort of safe, very minimal lifestyle. Not happy, not depressed - somewhere in between. Lacking in passion as well.
 
2010-01-22 01:02:09 AM  
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

Yeah, it really sucks now compared to that.
 
2010-01-22 01:18:18 AM  
A coworker showed me an article on this study a while back.

My argument was that it's not the availability of choices that's the problem, it's our inability to make decisions. Or our inability to filter what's important from what's not. We are - or have become - very weak at critical thinking.

Are there more brands of toothpaste on the shelf than you could ever need? Yes. Does that mean you should stand there agonizing over them to make sure you pick exactly the right one? No. Just grab one if they're all the same. If you have a particular need, say, whitening ingredients, then filter for those... and then grab one.

Obviously not everything is as simple, or unimportant, as toothpaste, but the same principles generally apply. If you find yourself truly unable to decide among several choices, then it's probably because you've already filtered down enough that everything left is perfectly adequate, and beyond that the differences are irrelevant to your needs. So pick one... or if nothing else, let the price decide from there.

This article does raise one new point:

The study believes that the problem is that when you have too much choice, you become obsessed about what your decision will say about you.

Then when you have made the choice you worry that it is wrong.


Probably true for many people... but again, the problem is their insecurity, not the availability of choice. Understand your own needs (or those of people you're responsible for), fulfill those, and stop worrying what anyone else thinks. After that, everything is for fun - if you're stressing about it, you're defeating the purpose.

Man, I'm just full of super awesome advice. I should be a life coach.
 
2010-01-22 01:31:59 AM  
CheekyMunky: We are - or have become - very weak at critical thinking.

Did you ever read Blink by Thomas Gladwell? It tackles this very thing but from the perspective that decision like toothpaste require no real critical thinking: you've really made your choice almost instantly and subconsciously but many employ critical reasoning and over-think the issue.
 
2010-01-22 02:23:34 AM  
CheekyMunky: Understand your own needs (or those of people you're responsible for), fulfill those, and stop worrying what anyone else thinks.

That's simplification of a complex problem on a monumental level. Just understanding your needs and devising the best method of going about servicing them is a full-time job in the modern world. We're well past kill deer = get food + stay warm.
 
2010-01-22 02:42:36 AM  
This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Now let me tell you what the green, brown, yellow, white, orange, pink, purple, and black pills do.
 
2010-01-22 02:43:05 AM  
CheekyMunky: Man, I'm just full of super awesome advice. I should be a life coach.

IN A VAN! DOWN BY THE RIVER!!

/but seriously, you echoed my thoughts rather well. I have nothing to add
 
2010-01-22 04:09:22 AM  
whomever wrote that article is an idiot.
 
2010-01-22 04:16:51 AM  
bighasbeen: Did you ever read Blink by Thomas Gladwell?

I presume you mean Malcolm Gladwell. All his stuff is amazing- Outliers, Tipping Point, Blink, all I would consider required reading. I think he may well be the most insightful Canadian since Marshall Mcluhan (with apologies to Margaret Atwood).

His most prescient quote to me is that "As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of 'do it yourself.'" Consider this in the context of how low the barrier to entry is to so many businesses these days. This he stated in 1957, which is remarkable. If he had said 'information' instead of 'automation' (ostensibly the same thing), I'd probably worship him as a god.

As a Canadian though, the most painfully honest quote of his is this: "Canada is the only country that knows how to live without an identity".
 
2010-01-22 07:38:11 AM  
So whom ever wrote the article is not pro-choice?
 
2010-01-22 07:54:26 AM  
From the foods we eat, to the television channels we watch, to the schools we send our children too and the career we choose to pursue, society has never offered us so much variety.

Apparently the choice between two, to and too is too much for the writer to handle.
 
2010-01-22 07:55:41 AM  
bighasbeen: Did you ever read Blink by Thomas Gladwell?

I think you mean Malcolm Gladwell, unless you're referring to his malevolent twin Thomas, who wrote the rather underwhelming and poorly received Wink.
 
2010-01-22 07:56:50 AM  
This gives me an idea... make a company that allows you to hire someone to make decisions for you. And all the employees would be named Jesus so the company slogan can be "when in doubt, ask jesus!" From entree choices to investment decisions. Narrow down your choices with Jesus, your personal counselor. (Jesus not responsible for the outcome of his decisions made on your behalf).
/fear the christian backlash.
 
2010-01-22 07:57:52 AM  
Conservatives are upset by too much choice. Others typically don't have a problem with it.
 
2010-01-22 07:58:43 AM  
Occam's Chainsaw:
That's simplification of a complex problem on a monumental level.


I'm thinking you know quite a lot about that method, don't you? One could even say you were made for it.
 
2010-01-22 08:01:06 AM  
You know else wanted to takes away peoples choices....
 
2010-01-22 08:01:57 AM  
Looks like the communists were right all along.
 
2010-01-22 08:02:09 AM  
there's there are

FTFY.
 
2010-01-22 08:02:10 AM  
Uh... Join the Army?
 
2010-01-22 08:03:28 AM  
Thats why I eat nothing but pepperoni hot pockets and Big Red Cream Soda.

/hooot pocket!
 
2010-01-22 08:04:33 AM  
bighasbeen: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

Yeah, it really sucks now compared to that.


Do they grip the wheel and stare alone into the distance? Do they know that something somewhere has to break?
 
2010-01-22 08:04:45 AM  
Weaver95: whomever wrote that article is an idiot.

Are you sure? I can't really tell. Is there another article similar to this one I can compare it to? Oh wait, you know what? Never mind- this one's fine I guess. Well... on second thought maybe I should take a look at that other one. Oh jeez, I really don't know what to do... What do you think? Oh, right you already said this one was stupid. Ok, I'll go with the other one. What's that? There isn't another one. Oh... crap.. well... ok.
 
2010-01-22 08:06:49 AM  
Who was the paranoid philosopher guy who had to choose between taking the train or going by car and chose to go by car but then got hit by a train and died with the train ticket in his pocket?
 
2010-01-22 08:06:54 AM  
somemoron: bighasbeen: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.

Yeah, it really sucks now compared to that.

Do they grip the wheel and stare alone into the distance? Do they know that something somewhere has to break?


Now that I think about it, has ten years got behind them? I bet noone told them when to run... they missed the starting gun.
 
2010-01-22 08:08:59 AM  
If you chose not to decide you still have made a choice.

-Gary Weinrib
 
2010-01-22 08:10:37 AM  
i765.photobucket.com

i765.photobucket.com

i765.photobucket.com

Done
 
2010-01-22 08:13:03 AM  
Weaver95: whomever wrote that article is an idiot.

Thank you for such a well thought out, insightful critique.
 
2010-01-22 08:13:19 AM  
Barry Schwartz has an interesting TED Talk (20 mins) on this paradox of choice... which isn't exactly news to me! But apparently it is to the Telegraph.
 
2010-01-22 08:14:23 AM  
It's not the actual act of choosing that makes people upset. It is the inability to accept our choices. If after picking a toothpaste, Sam realizes that it isn't as awesome as he imagined, he will then begin to wonder what could have been. He will begin to self hate because he will have no one to blame but himself. However, if there were only one kind of toothpaste, Sam may hate it but he wouldn't be mad at himself. He would be forced to just accept that his toothpaste sucks and move on.
 
2010-01-22 08:16:33 AM  
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Of course, it's the English way.
 
2010-01-22 08:17:06 AM  
unyon: I presume you mean Malcolm Gladwell.

coco ebert: bighasbeen: Did you ever read Blink by Thomas Gladwell?

I think you mean Malcolm Gladwell, unless you're referring to his malevolent twin Thomas, who wrote the rather underwhelming and poorly received Wink.


Yeah, that's the ticket.

/D'oh
 
2010-01-22 08:17:36 AM  
The only people who are really having problems with this level of choice are those who were allowed too much freedom as children. The boundaries that the onion-belted set experienced taught them how to make effective choices later. Letting your kids run rampant now will teach them that when presented with seemingly unlimited opportunities as an adult, one shouldn't NEED to choose -- just do as one wants at this moment, because there's always something new to choose from when one gets tired of the first choice.

This explains most of our throwaway culture, including how many of the X and Y -ers deal with relationships. It's not "there's too many things to choose from", it's that this young adult generation has rarely been told that they HAVE to choose in the first place, 'cos you can always get a better one tomorrow.
 
2010-01-22 08:25:47 AM  
"Too many things! Too many things!!"
 
2010-01-22 08:28:12 AM  
ElwoodPDowd: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Of course, it's the English way.


Win.
 
2010-01-22 08:30:00 AM  
www.zuguide.com

Be right back, just got the new catalog.

On a serious note, think of free choice as comparable to nuclear power. Some of what you decide will ripple out to your children and their children. It's nice when you profit from all that power, but it's not so nice when a choice brings you to a personal Chernobyl. At the center of a lot of people's thoughts are, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I would submit that the main reason is that we are free thinking, and free choosing, beings. We have the means to advance ourselves to get heights and also the means to utterly destroy ourselves.

/Thanks for reading, now back to your regularly scheduled titty joke.
 
2010-01-22 08:30:47 AM  
I chooooo chooooo choooose you!!
 
2010-01-22 08:31:22 AM  
Doesn't Haiti pretty much prove this wrong? It would seem that they have very little choice there and many of them appear bewildered and depressed.
 
2010-01-22 08:33:16 AM  
Scotty Nuttz: "Too many things! Too many things!!"

THANK YOU!
 
2010-01-22 08:33:46 AM  
Failing_Junk: The solution is for the government to take away most of our stuff and give it to other people.

Thread over in one. No other reason to bring up the subject.
/Cool story, Anaia. Sounds like somebody needs a surprise party.
 
2010-01-22 08:34:21 AM  
cork904: ElwoodPDowd: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Of course, it's the English way.

Win.


But Thoreau was American...
 
2010-01-22 08:36:14 AM  
unyon: I presume you mean Malcolm Gladwell. All his stuff is amazing- Outliers, Tipping Point, Blink, all I would consider required reading. I think he may well be the most insightful Canadian since Marshall Mcluhan (with apologies to Margaret Atwood).

His most prescient quote to me is that "As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of 'do it yourself.'" Consider this in the context of how low the barrier to entry is to so many businesses these days. This he stated in 1957, which is remarkable. If he had said 'information' instead of 'automation' (ostensibly the same thing), I'd probably worship him as a god.


Wow that's amazing. Casting forth such pearls of wisdom six years before his birth...
 
2010-01-22 08:37:09 AM  
MadMonk: Looks like the communists were right all along.

If you want to join a lineup around the block for one variety of moldy bread, be my guest. For the rest of us, Communist societies were a perfect illustration of how the lack of economic and political freedom can only lead to a lack of the kind of variety that makes life worth living.
 
2010-01-22 08:37:40 AM  
Yet, it's the poorest even in our generous society constantly want more and more. They're never happy with the crap they have, and that's why both our countries are so massively in debt. It's more a problem in the U.S. then Canada but still we load poor people with the idea that for a better life. You need more crap.


Funny though. Watching programs like PBS's "Frontier House" and BBC's "Tales from the Victorian Farm" the participants always want to continue to stay and give up modern living precisely because they're just to damn much of everything.
 
2010-01-22 08:37:53 AM  
Even being or not being is a tough binary question to answer if you're a depressed Dane.
 
2010-01-22 08:38:13 AM  
dahmers love zombie: The only people who are really having problems with this level of choice are those who were allowed too much freedom as children. The boundaries that the onion-belted set experienced taught them how to make effective choices later. Letting your kids run rampant now will teach them that when presented with seemingly unlimited opportunities as an adult, one shouldn't NEED to choose -- just do as one wants at this moment, because there's always something new to choose from when one gets tired of the first choice.

This explains most of our throwaway culture, including how many of the X and Y -ers deal with relationships. It's not "there's too many things to choose from", it's that this young adult generation has rarely been told that they HAVE to choose in the first place, 'cos you can always get a better one tomorrow.


I disagree. I'm terrible at making decisions, but my parents were of an older generation and didn't allow me much freedom. Instead of being unable to choose because I was never told I'd HAVE to choose, I was told that every choice is permanent. No one in my family ever changed anything. My dad changed jobs once. The house I grew up in has had my parents living in it since 1973. No, I'm not making choices thinking I can just toss it all out tomorrow. I'm paralyzed by the conditioning that everything I choose, I'm going to be stuck with forever. Even though of course I know that that's not necessarily true.
 
2010-01-22 08:39:03 AM  
Great article, huh?

Well it may surprise you that this insightful piece was written by our own comedian Joseph Stalin. Who would of thought that such the slap-stick comic ruffian could write an article so scientifically truthful and eloquent? It just goes to show how precious life really is. Pass this along to seven friends and share the wisdom of this article. And realize, just how lucky we really are!
 
2010-01-22 08:39:07 AM  
brap: Free will is both hell and heaven.

Free Will is total hell when sung by Geddy Lee.
 
2010-01-22 08:39:19 AM  
bgal85: It's not the actual act of choosing that makes people upset. It is the inability to accept our choices. If after picking a toothpaste, Sam realizes that it isn't as awesome as he imagined, he will then begin to wonder what could have been. He will begin to self hate because he will have no one to blame but himself. However, if there were only one kind of toothpaste, Sam may hate it but he wouldn't be mad at himself. He would be forced to just accept that his toothpaste sucks and move on.

I think that's part of it, but pop culture/pop science is telling us we don't know anything - cutting down confidence that we can make decisions. Every day, it seems the media has a health/news story that starts with "You thought X was good for you, but a recent study suggests it may not be..."

Science/Health stories that prove what you thought true is completely wrong is the norm now. We've come to accept that today's studies will reverse everything we learned yesterday and tomorrow's will refute today's.

So when you're trying to chose a toothpaste there is that nagging feeling that what we are assuming is true today will be proven wrong by some random medical study in the near future. Even the smallest risk is exploded into an almost certainty ("X found in toothpaste shown to cause cancer in lab rats" - means that I will get cancer if I use this toothpaste!).

I believe your idea of regret is a big part, but so is the current Zeitgeist of assuming all conventional wisdom must be wrong if some scientific study says it is wrong.
 
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