There’s a terrific video of psychologist Barry Schwartz who discusses the tyranny of choice. In ‘the old days’ we asked for a tin of baked beans and the retailer handed it over.
Nothing is perfect. So when the beans failed to live up to the marketing, we headed back to the shopkeeper and rounded on them for their poor choice, frustrating service, and unsatisfying delivery. The beans weren’t good enough. Our expectations weren’t met. We mouth off at the poor shopkeeper (who only stocked one brand of beans anyway).
Nowadays the choice is ours. I just looked up the results on Sainsburys and get 41 different ‘varieties’, from standard to curry flavour, from reduced sugar to snap pots.
Surely among such a wide range I must find my perfection. But of course, I don’t.
Nothing is perfect. So now I don’t have a shopkeeper to blame. I had all the choice in the world and I still didn’t get it right.
The blame falls to me.
Schwartz’s paradigm says that choice is an oppression handed down from brands to consumers. When we hanker after olden times of simpler choices, what we really want is someone else to blame for this less-than-perfect life we find ourselves in.