Choices

In modern day society in the U.S. and elsewhere we are constantly being barraged with a mind boggling array of choices for every aspect of life.  So numerous are my choices that I tend to do that which is most familiar to me in order to reduce the uncertainties of choices I am confronted with.  Perhaps this self-imposed restriction of choices is symptomatic of my autism but I think I am not alone.  For example I lose much of the joy of eating when going to a new restaurant where I am confronted with a menu written in some foreign language.  I’d rather go to a hamburger joint and order a #2 meal or a Vietnamese restraint and order my normal #23 dish.  When shopping on the internet I tend to shop for familiar brand names rather than read all the ratings for a product or vendor I’m unfamiliar with.  I never bid on items but rather pay the higher ‘Buy now’ price.

Perhaps it’s because I am a senior.  My neural networks are so frozen that I am incapable of learning new things or dealing with all the modern complexities on life.  I used to be quite good with computers and the internet and even did some of my own programming and websites.  But now software is so object oriented and expanded with other new concepts and the internet so enhanced with CSS and scripting options that I can no longer cope with all these new choices.  The world has become overwhelmingly complex with so many new choices and options that sometimes I wished we lived in a more restricted society with far fewer choices.  Freedom of choice seems to be approaching the absurd.  One’s freedom of choice is only as good as one’s ability to make wise choices.  Otherwise it’s like placing a child in a chocolate factory free to wander around and sample the goods.

I must admit that my ability to make wise choices is becoming a challenge.  Perhaps I am ‘choice challenged’.  But I have a feeling that I am far from being alone.  The popularity of computers and the internet has quantum leaped information (or perhaps misinformation) and consequently our available choices in just about every aspect of life.  This has created choice overload.  We now have to depend upon other’s recommendations through reviews to help us make choices.  But how reliable are these reviews or how relevant are the reviews to our situation?   Should one read a bunch of review for a product and look at overall ratings?  After all most reviewers are people just like you and I, almost as ignorant of the product as we?  So how do we choose which reviews to trust?  It almost makes one throw up one’s hands in frustration on what to buy.

Perhaps we will give up in frustration and simply shop at a store where we can see and feel the things we want to buy and ask a sale clerk for their recommendations.  At least you can ask them questions and get an immediate response.  After all talking to a real human being has some intrinsic value doesn’t it?  I’m not sure this would be any better but it would be a lot easier in terms of making decisions about our choices.  As time advances so will the variety of choices confronting us and the dilemma we increasingly face in making wise decisions.  I wonder if I am really in control of making better choices or if choices are being made for me by new products with the greatest features and the most options I neither need nor use.

Perhaps ‘freedom of choice’ should be replaced by ‘freedom to make choices wisely’.  No wonder this country is suffering conservatism backlash.  Many Americans strive for the good old days of simplicity.  Having options is good as long as one understands ones options but when faced with too many options that one doesn’t understand is like filling out a lengthy questionnaire form where one does not really understand many of the terms used in the form.  It’s as confusing and frustrating as h__.

I’m not sure what can be done with information overload and too many choices.  It is a problem that is getting progressively worst with time and technology.  It is also getting progressively more difficult to get accurate and less confusing information.  There is a saying that ‘the more you know the more you realize how little you know.’  It is equally true that ‘the more you realize how little you know the more you realize how ignorant you are.’  But I’m sure of one thing, becoming fundamentally more conservative is not a solution but simply putting one’s head in the sand.

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