Thursday, June 17, 2004

Choices

I started the morning off in a happy-about-the-world mood. A kind of bouncy benevolence that makes me smile at the parade of loonies* outside my window.

Then I thought I'd have a trawl through Ananova. Oopsies.

"A woman paid £10,000 to have her new Mini Cooper customised - just so it could match her £20 handbag."

She said: "When I'm out on the road lots of people wave and beep at me - they must think there's a movie star inside."

Or a complete idiot. I vote for idiot.

Perhaps this is what happens when you have far too much choice as a consumer.

Choice, like freedom is a dangerous thing apparently.

It looks like people are seriously stressed out in the biscuit aisle when faced with SO MUCH CHOICE. There's simply too much on offer. It's too hard.

Psychologist Dr Aric Sigman, author of the report, said: "Humans now have to make more decisions in a single day than a caveman did in a lifetime."

Yes, they do. Humans also have to drive cars, solve quadratic equations and figure out how to program the VCR.

I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that certain members of the intelligentsia are using the life of a caveman as a baseline measurement for what we should be doing. Take their ideas on the environment, politics and industry to their natural conclusion and we'll all be huddling in caves sometime soon.

There is a solution out there, of course, and I've seen it first hand. When I travelled to Russia years ago, they still had the old products in stores. One brand. The comrade brand. 'Twas simple. You wanted a 2 in 1 shampoo and conditioner (and body soap and detergent and washing up liquid)? You got the boiled horsefat bar, baby. No choice there.

Go back 20 years or so in Russia and you didn't even have a choice as to what you did with your life, almost no choice as to the name of your child (I *narrowly* escaped being named 'Traktorina' at the Palace of Names or Palace of Registrations or some such place.) and certainly didn't have the power to choose not to live in an oppresive regime.

It's also a fascinating point that whilst Americans have 'too much' choice in brands of products, the American government is busy Antitrusting any company over a certain size. Can't have too few companies with too much market share, can't have too many companies with too little market share.





* I'll tell you about those in another post.

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