Nowadays, we live each day with so many choices. From our lifestyle to the products we use, we constantly make choices.
Let’s say, for example, you are into beauty products. From your skincare to make-up, you make sure you choose the correct product that suits your skin well. Assuming you are visiting a beauty store where there are lots of best-selling products. You check the ingredients of each beauty product, and there are products that almost have the same ingredients which are good for your skin, but their price varies. You cannot decide which one to purchase because of too many choices.
That phenomenon is what we call the paradox of choice.
First, what is the paradox of choice?
Barry Schwartz, in his book ‘The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less’, said:
“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.”
The paradox of choice is an observation that having many options to choose from, rather than making people happy and ensuring they get what they want, can cause them stress and problematize decision-making.
And yes, every single day, we live in sort of the paradox of choice world. But does it only bring stress and problems in decision-making? Or will it help us make better choices?
Should we worry about living in the paradox of too many choices?
In the same book, Barry Schwartz wrote about the negative consequences of having too many options. Schwartz maintained that an overabundance of options can actually lead to anxiety, indecision, paralysis, and dissatisfaction.
When this is your reaction towards the paradox of choice, then surely it is something to be worried about. There are people who would think that being left with too many choices is a headache, which is true, but when you know what the best thing is, then you won’t worry about it. Some people would say that the paradox of choices has helped them to make better decisions as they carefully look into each choice.
In our generation today, we become more dependent on technology which has a lot of things to offer, which leaves us with the paradox of choice. Talking about technology, apps definitely come with it. So let’s talk about it, and realize how that paradox of choice on apps makes our lives easy and difficult.
The Paradox of Choice on apps
From apps where we can watch shows unlimitedly like Netflix to dating apps like Tinder, social media apps, Facebook which is the most popular, online shopping apps like Amazon, digital apps like Canva, and music streaming apps like Spotify, we certainly take time in making decisions.
How does the paradox of choice on these apps make our lives difficult?
Netflix is probably the most used app when it comes to movies and series that are really on top of the market. Though it is already a good app, still, there lies the paradox of choice. Because first, you have to decide on what show to watch. Then, because of too many choices out there, you find yourself scrolling and looking for recommended movies or series that suit your style. The categories that Netflix offers make it harder and it takes us longer to make a decision.
Tinder represents the paradox of choice problem more than anything else. This is a dating app that most single people are using, however, many single people still find it hard to choose who to date and at some point confirm that the app kind of damaged the vision towards dating and romanticism.
Well, who wouldn’t? With so many fish in the sea, you find it hard to choose. There may be someone who meets your physical standard, but not its likes and dislikes, or the other way around. Or, the app may help you find a compatible partner, but the fact that you found just one person implies that you could find one more. Or a hundred more. You might have matched with someone great, but there are so many more potential matches out there! You cannot stop yourself from scrolling. This could make you less satisfied…
When it comes to social media apps, Facebook is the most popular and is the first social network to surpass one billion registered accounts and currently sits at more than 2.85 billion monthly active users. Yes, it has served as our outlet in knowing other people more, or what they do, and it also has left us in the paradox of choice. The endless feed of people sharing their lives online makes us hyper-aware of the millions of different ways we could be living our lives, leaving us paralyzed in bed scrolling. The endless possibilities of what we can be doing at any moment multiply when social media shows us the way other people are choosing to spend their time. This leads us to compare our choices with others and causes dissatisfaction with our own lives.
What’s more? shopping!!! Nowadays, people want convenience and skip the hassle of falling in line to shop and pay, so people would rather choose to shop online. Amazon is a popular shopping app. It had been initially started as an online marketplace for books. but now, you name it, think of it- shop for clothing, electronics, software, beauty products, video games, apparel, furniture, food, toys, jewelry, everything! Obviously, this app has way too many choices. There is too much stuff and lots of reviews which makes it hard to choose. When you type an item, the app offers you more or less 2,000 choices. Well, that’s definitely hard and it would really consume a lot of your time.
Lastly music. So here the thing, the paradox of choice, in my opinion at least, is actually good for music. Yes, it was definitely 50 or 6 years ago when everybody liked the Beatles and Elvis, and… But now, music is another thing with so many opportunities, genres, new playlists like Lofi and Jazz Hop.
Spotify and YouTube are the apps for that. Personally, I love scrolling on YouTube and if there’s one good thing with so many choices is the variety of music these days.
Looking at the other side of the coin
Despite these choices that make us unhappy, these apps and the choices they have, have also made our lives easier. Like Netflix. This app allows us to choose from the options unlike on the television shows which leaves us no choice but to watch it because we cannot really choose what to watch. Let us give Netflix credit for that.
And though there are a lot of choices on Tinder, it also has made our lives easier in a way that you meet people outside your circle. It allows you to explore, know a person more, and let other people know more about you. Yes, the posts on Facebook leave us the paradox of choice. But still, these social media apps have also made our lives easier in a way that we can easily share our stories, inspire others, share awareness, and use it for business purposes.
The paradox of choice on Amazon has also helped us choose the right product. And though the reviews make it even harder to choose, it helps us to make better choices. Also, the app has made our shopping easier because there is no need for you to travel and inconvenience yourself with falling in line. Shopping is made easier with just a tap.
And, despite the choices on Spotify, it has something good to offer – stream most of the music without paying a penny. And, Spotify has a library of other pre-made playlists perfect for every life event imaginable, like a pregame, morning commute, or bad break-up.
The paradox of choice not only gives us a hard time in decision-making, but it also has made our life easier by reducing the chances of making the wrong choice. The more choices we have, the more chances we have to make better decisions.
Sometimes, choices can help us have the best. Yet, too many choices may make us indecisive and dissatisfied. But if we only choose carefully, we will never regret it. It may take us time but there is nothing wrong with taking our time in order to make better decisions. Apps, though, give us the paradox of choice, but they can also make our lives convenient, hassle-free, and creative as we explore the choices they offer. Just as there are two sides to the coin, so is there a brighter side to having too many choices.