Sunday, March 18, 2007

More Choices Than Ever

Information overload is a term commonly thrown around these days with the Internet being a large source of information. With information comes choice. We must choose what to do with the information we find, decide whether it is credible, and opt for the appropriate action.

In his post on Choice, Seth Godin points out that we have many more choices than we did several hundred years ago. I know that I turn to the Internet frequently to choose products, services, and sometimes even personal decisions. It is usually my starting point for research, from which I determine the remainder of my research.

We make choices every day on whether or not to get out of bed, what needs to be done that day, and how we will act. We choose what food to consume, which products to purchase, and where to spend our time.

Has the Internet made our copious choices easier or more difficult?


blogMeTender said...

There's a great book getting a lot of coverage lately. My local library has 13 people requesting it. I read it once, I want it again. It's _The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less_.

The book begins with author Barry Schwartz saying all he wanted was a pair of blue jeans, size 32. He got to the store, attacked by so many options: baggy, regular, relaxed, loose, boot cut, etc. He wasted so much time.

We are faced with choices everywhere. We're made to feel that no matter what we choose, there's always something better. There's a better career, a better spouse, a better city, etc. We're also told we can find out anything if we go online.

I think the Internet puts the power of choice on steroids. It's deceiving and addictive. Since it's so fast, you're tempted to check out one more review, one more consumer Web site. Sometimes I've gone to page after page and end up choosing nothing, like when I looked at 33 printers. Worse, what was supposed to take a few minutes turned into hours! Where did my day go?

Schwartz recommends to get over this to deliberately limit your choices. If you're interested in a product, read just 5 reviews, and that's it. Then be happy with your choice. If something better comes along, you did what you thought best at the time.

I love this book!

Leigh said...

Sounds like a great book- I’ll have to check it out. It is so true that we are overwhelmed by choices and the Internet doesn’t help. I think you raise an interesting point that we’re made to feel there is always something better. We have a constant barrage of advertising everywhere we look, and I suppose the main goal of marketing is to make you think their product is better than what you currently have. When I was looking for a new digital camera a couple of years ago, I was immediately overwhelmed by the information available on the Internet. Instead I visited a few stores, picked three cameras that seemed to have the options I wanted, then went back to read the online reviews. Once I did that, the decision was much less daunting. Thanks for your input!