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oh the guilt

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Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered
E.F. Schumacher

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less - Barry Schwartz Ok, so I'm not sure if I read this book or just a paper by Mr. Schwartz of the same subject.

Doesn't matter either way, as long as you grasp the concept which is that being a maximizer in everything (or most things in your life) is no way to maximize your happiness (though I personally find contentment far worthier pursuit - in my mind happiness manifests itself only in fleeting moments) - on the contrary.

Some say Schwartz' ideas are but common knowledge. Rightly so. And it's great to have that "knowledge" in one package. I'm guessing very few indeed analytically think about the choices we all make and have to make in our daily lives. This book reminds us that we really ought to - not at every possible chance but when it really matters.

I personally feel that the best tactics is to learn to become a satisficer in all walks of life apart from love, relationships and arts. You will want friends that are worthy of your friendship, you will want to love someone who will love you back even when you are sick, broke or in a cranky mood, and you will want to be awestruck by works of art - time and time again.

According to wikipedia further studies have failed to prove Schwartz' thesis that too much choice causes stress. Of course that is a generalization to begin with. Individuals react differently. And individuals themselves value some things higher than other things. For example I couldn't care less about what beer I'm drinking. They all taste more or less like piss and all I ask for a beer is to get me drunk. But I care immensely what kind of a music I want to listen to.

Some tests that Schwartz has conducted seem to point in the direction that there could be about an equal amount of "extreme" maximizer (10%) and "extreme" satisficers (10%). The rest of us would fall somewhere along those two opposites. But it's rarely if ever a clear-cut case. As people change, so do their preferences. Having the latest smart phone is probably less meaningful to someone who's pushing 50, 40 or even 30 than it is to 20-somethings.

And of course there's this thing called adaptation. Some folks adapt rather quickly and rather effortlessly, others "require" more time. But there are also those people around who do not particularly even want to adapt. Because sometimes adapting is not that different from giving up altogether. You know by now that I'm one of those people.

I don't care for the illusion of choice. As a consumer I want actual, factual choices, not cosmetic ones. For example, there's about million "different" computer models - yet you can't buy a bare bones laptop that is really only fit for writing and very light web browsing purposes. With today's battery technology, flash memories and low to no power drawing chips and displays you could probably keep on writing with such a machine for solid 24 hours - days if using e-ink display technology. There simply isn't such a machine in the market, anywhere, at any price.

I can't call the market and ask it to make me one. I could call every manufacturer and they would all tell me the same: not enough demand. Indeed - how the hell could there even be demand if and when potential buyers aren't even aware that such a laptop could already be built first thing tomorrow?

Tisk, tisk.