The Fallacy of Choice


“In our current times of massive materialistic consumptions, businesses are overly focused on the provision of variety and choice to their customers while consumers are overwhelmed by the inordinate number of products placed before them, while loving it. Many are unaware of the overbearing pressure of making a choice that eats into our time. While it takes merely a minute to order a meal, it now takes an average of 15-20 minutes just to place an order with the waiter. While sales personnel have it easy by narrowing choices for their customers in the past, this is sheer impossibility in current times where a packaged meal can have numerous combinations, and a pair of jeans can have a large number of varied cuts and style. An increased access to more choices is never a good thing – although most businesses would refute this by saying that it is good for business. If providing one with more choices is strategic, then it would be hard to explain how some businesses have gone out of business because they ran out of choices for their customers – despite increasing their variety frequently.

The increase in choices has not only complicated our lives, it has – in fact – made it worse.

While Human Resources used to receive job applications via snail mail, there are now a large influx of applications in the form of emails, CD-ROMs/DVD-ROMs, online video resume submissions, blog submissions etc. While singles used to get to know one another through their relatives and loved ones by meeting in person or by being pen pals, they are now only getting a glimpse of the other singles through selected photos placed online on online matchmaking websites, via speed dating, (self-organised) social events, paid  customised  meet-up sessions organised by dating agencies etc.  Information overload in the internet may be a result of one’s desire for self-expression and recognition but isn’t this because of one’s desire for information and knowledge?  What one tends to overlook is that while variety increases, the time to get to understand something or someone reduces dramatically. There is almost always trade-offs in life. And in the case of increased choices and options, we sacrifice focus and concentration in understanding others and things better. Seen in this light, it’s no wonder that instant gratification is the preferred norm in modern times, no matter how some are against it. To put it plainly, if someone knows that they will have anther choice coming their way, would they take the time to understand and wait out for the current item or person that they love? Probably not. Even if they settle for now, they know that they can always bail out if they want to. This explains the short attention span and capriciousness of one in relationships and business purchases in contemporary times. Few people now stick together to tide through the hard times, be it in marriage or in business. Even unused items are thrown out in lieu of a new or better brand. The person who coined the idiom “throw the baby out with the bath water” was way ahead of his or her time. ”

This article says it all. And the best quote in the article?

Stick to the choices that matter and eliminate the rest.’ “


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