Tyranny dating choice
The good news for everyone is that you can build immunity to the tyranny of choice.
This happens to me all the time: I’m standing in a supermarket aisle paralyzed by choices.
Alice, a marketing executive in her 40s, has been a member on and off of the Jewish dating site for years; at her count, she’s been on more than 100 dates with men from the greater Dallas region.
But the more she lingers on the site, she says, the harder it is to settle on any one suitor.
As I argue in my book, people are perpetually single or labor on in unfulfilling relationships not because of tyranny of choice but because they haven’t created a specific list of what they want in a mate.
“Aligning on religion, finances and family” doesn’t qualify as a list.
Others just want out, so they’re willing to settle for someone who seems good enough at that moment in time.
But this phenomenon is only applicable for those people who aren’t really looking for long-term love.
But it’s also true that a life marked by boundless choice ends up being a life of hyper-calculation in pursuit of a perfection that always seems just a little bit out of reach.
Increasingly, it seems, branding is running up against a wall of consumer resistance.
We can only process so many product choices in our minds.
Many choices are really quite frivolous or gratuitous. Movements based on voluntary simplicity and “green living” are starting to turn people away from the glut of stuff that really doesn’t make us that happy.
We are easily overwhelmed, and the very process of “utility maximization” that economists celebrate as the height of economic progress becomes a terrible burden. Or as Bill Mc Kibben's book puts, it Now, if only economists and government officials would begin to develop new economic theories and policies to recognize this basic human reality.