Too Many Choices

Thanks to the advent of fast internet connections, I’ve been spoilt for choice when it comes to things I want to waste my time on when I’m in front of the computer. Previously, I was limited by the amount of space I had in my hard drive. Terrabytes weren’t a thing yet, so I couldn’t store all my favorite MP3s and movies. Then came CD-ROM burners, which helped, but not as much as external hard drives. Those used to cost way more for less storage than you get now, and beyond the occasional thumb drive (to replace the lost ones I got for free from events) I haven’t purchased one in ages.

my local MP3 collection

Now I don’t even back up most of my files on physical media anymore. Thanks to Google Drive and Photos, there isn’t a need. Not to mention, Google does a great job of automatically sorting and tagging your photos (I know people care about their privacy, but I enjoy the convenience of typing noodles in the search bar to remember where I’ve been). Machines have come a long way thanks to all the captchas we’ve been doing.

Google Photos

If you want to watch a movie these days, just load up Netflix, or your favorite streaming site, type in a movie name and click watch. It’s that convenient. If you want to listen to music, just load up Spotify or YouTube, type in a song name and there you go! No more waiting for songs to download to your PC and launching them in a media player to listen to them. I still do the latter for music, but streaming services are great to check out new artists I have not listened to before.

But like with all things, there are good and bad sides to them. While people might see it as a ‘first world problem’, it’s a problem nonetheless – having too many choices makes it difficult to decide what you want to consume. Yes, that’s right. You ever sit down in front of your TV, and browse Netflix endlessly looking for something to watch? I know I’m guilty. I see a show I think I might be interested in but I don’t watch it immediately. I add it to ‘My (neverending) List’, and look for something else that I might want to watch. Repeat this for maybe half an hour and decide that I’d rather do something else instead of watching a show. Come back to Netflix a week later and repeat the same process. It’s the same with Spotify. I have playlists of countless unwatched shows and unlistened music.

my Netflix playlist

While it’s not an issue having large playlists of unconsumed content, it could be a problem one day – when record companies or movie distributors lose the rights to the material, leaving empty spots in your playlists. And then you kick yourself for not checking them out earlier. Fortunately, there’s always the alternative coughpiratebaycough but most of the time you’ll look for something, download it and end up forgetting about it (at least that’s what I do).

I guess it’s more of my consumption habit than a problem of too many choices. I should learn to pick and choose and stick with it. Which is why I’ve been choosing not to finish some games in my Steam library. When I feel a game is more trouble than it’s worth to complete, I uninstall and move on.

my Steam library

I’ve been doing the same thing with music and shows too. If I don’t absolutely enjoy something, I turn it off and jump to the next in line. I don’t have that much time in my life, shouldn’t I spend it on something else that I like instead? This philosophy has helped me to clean up my playlist (it’s still long but I’m getting there) and it is also why I play so much Dota 2.


Also, interesting video about choices:

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