The dilemma of choice
Interesting article in the Guardian about choice and marketing. And a great quote from Professor Tim Jackson, the author of Prosperity Without Growth: “We buy things we don’t need with money we haven’t got to make impressions that don’t last on people we don’t care about.”It has quickly become a well-known phrase, but in his book, he describes how the never-ending spiral of over-consumption has led us into never-ending spiral of debt and cultural decay in Western society. And moreover, how “We do not have investment structures, investment markets, investment conditions that are suitable to lay down the infrastructure to allow people to make better choices.”
It’s proven that consumers who are faced with too much choice, make no choice at all. In fact, the biggest luxury of our age is to be totally relieved from the stress of choice making; stores that sell one thing, set breakfasts and tasting menus, Japanese spa style retreats where your time is scheduled for you, without internet access, and you are told what to wear. What could be a better remedy to the stresses of modern day life?
The ‘luxury of no-choice’ has seen the rise of curator brands, for everything from design to tech to music. Marketeers are stepping further into our cognitive and behavioral patterns to exploit the contexts of choice that govern our everyday lives. Choice through algorithm. Choice as preconcieved ideas of preference.
We are being consciously guided into making a multitude of wrong choices. As Jackson writes: “There are social frailties in the way that we exercise choice but there are also frailties that come from the structures of power. It is quite often the case, I would argue, that the context of choice is determined by existing power structures and interests.”
We are suffering from a kind of censorship of choice though being flooded with choices- micro choices and flow of content. In so much clutter, we can digest uncomfortable truths before confronted with the next news item. Anything of importance is quickly swept away by the next object of choice to cross our paths – we are always online but always disconnected.
The freedom to choose what to consume or not consume is only a semblance of freedom, that those who have real control over their own economic destinies simply do not need.