Anyhow, today Charlie Brooker wrote another one of his sharp view on life columns, concerning having infinite amount of choices and being stressed out due to it... well here it mostly concerns books and dvds. First of all, I was so happy to see that I am not the only one with the ever expanding list of books(or books actually on the shelf) to read and not enough time or self-discipline to actually read them. Phew, I thought I was the looser.
The interesting thing was his conclusion was that he wants to loose his freedom of choices, that he wants a strict regulation on what he gets to see, read etc.
Which made me think of the talk by Barry Schwartz at the TED conferences concerning the "paradox of choice"(video below), which is based on his book with the same title.
The summary (quoted from wikipedia/which quotes from this book) is
"... eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.
Autonomy and Freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don't seem to be benefiting from it psychologically."
This is exactly what Brooker was tapping into. The psychological anxiety due to the amount of choice we have. This has to do with the missed opportunities.
One of the suggestion to Brooker's column, by the reader, which I can't find any more, is that he should stop earning money. Since having less money really simplifies this choice making since you don't have any money to buy anything then.
Which I agree completely. I am one of those people who decided that I will not spend money on stuff, not because I am stingy nor because I am poor.. (well I was at the point when I started though), but because it's just soo much easier (thinking that) one does not have the monetary possibility to do various things.
An example. I would rather patch up holes in my socks(many of which were given to me by family and friends, thanks owen), rather than go shopping for them.
Why you ask? since I get incredibly anxious about which socks to get, the sporty ones of fashionable ones, or which brand, which shop to go to etc. It takes ridiculous amount of time and ends up with me being worried that I've made the wrong decision.
The same goes for other clothes and attire.
The same could go for books and CDs(I don't do DVDs - no I don't even download them. I just try to find free streaming services or go to movies - now that is a commitment of atleast 2 hours!!). Although I must say even in my poorest times, I've decided to splurge in CDs and books, since 1. I love music, 2. I don't buy many books anyhow.
Actually these days I resorted to buying either CDs. vinyl from bands I"ve just saw live or buying vinyl from the street flea market for 1 euro(especially because I know that they will throw away the rest at the end of the day if they can't sell them).
But whichever the case, I think the conclusion I was trying to make is that this whole paradox of choice becomes much easier when you limit your choice making to the minimal. And this links with the whole consuming less and preserving more. (also see this blog post on related topics)