Saturday, 2 June 2007

Too Many Choices?

We are told one criteria that makes humans highly differentiated from non-human animals is the ability of discerning choice.

Well great! So we are the undisputed King of the Jungle and we lord it over every other life-form on the planet! We decide which species becomes extinct and which gets genetically modified to better serve the human race in one way or other. Mother Nature is not too pleased and has allowed an affliction to creep into the our being that will eventually restrict our lives; limit our choices. It would be poetic justice indeed, as this affliction has to do with being overwhelmed by too many choices!

The era we live in, more than any preceding era offers the individual vast number of choices in virtually every facet of life. For material goods alone, the mind boggling myriad of varieties makes us like kids in a candy store! What about when we wrestle with questions of who we marry or whether we marry or divorce; which religious faith to follow or not to follow, or whether to adopt "New Age" spirituality; career choices; etc., etc., as we rush through a life of short term gratification and selfish values? So many choices; choose something, value nothing!

We are continually motivated by others saying we are anointed by this great ability to choose and that because of it, we are the ones in control! We are bombarded with "wise" sayings like; "we are today the sum total of our choices", "we choose the emotions we feel", "even the times when we are the beggars, we chose to be", "we chose the people in our lives", "our ability to choose never ends!", "we must choose to be in control of our lives, or someone else will", "we must have free will!"; WE CHOOSE!!!! Woe to those who say they have "no choice"!!

Well, you know what? Today, the most important influence in both our personal lives and indeed our culture is that we have too many choices, and the fact that we have to make those choices. We cannot escape from being transformed in how we live, how we think, and who we are.

We are getting increasingly paralyzed by having too many choices yet choices need to be made. When we do make the choices, we can always justify our choices to ourselves no matter how wrong a decision yet, there is always that little nagging voice of doubt. The multiplicity of choices has made us polarized and spawned acute dualism, paradoxes, dilemmas, contradictions and regrets.

Against the fabric of increased affluence but decaying moral standards and declining religious influence, this makes for a potentially dangerous cocktail. A seductively intoxicating cocktail made more potent by the discovery that sometimes we can indeed have our cake and eat it. This may eventually lead us towards anarchy or a breakdown of society as we know it today. It will start with the detioteration of family values and familial relationships; people will increasingly be able to find substitutes.

What is driving this great explosion of choices? It is information communication technology! It is the Internet, it is your and my handphone, it is the television, etc. It is globalization and the branding wars, it is the curse of easy consumer credit; it is the demand for more and more information, it is the demand for free will!


SkyHorse said...

So they say, we are spoilt with choices! :)

These in fact are really perceptions shaping in our mind, by brands bombardments. Mostly, we have a choice made in our mind when we choose certain products. For instance when we get our groceries, we know what we wanted in spite of there are choices aplenty in the market.

It is the sub-conscious mind or rather brand loyalty we embeded in our mind as a result of perception shaping enforcement through advertisers. The world has become a flat land with the technology of today. Choices, values, lifestyles and all conventional ways of trading have evolved. What determines the choices we made in our daily lives are presence of branding through how advertising guys wanted us to think and what image they projected into their commodities.

Hence, the choices we made some how are the choices presented by advertising or PR agancies to make us believe in it...

SkyHorse said...

...and my earlier comment was just based on commodities (sorry for not being specific when commenting) :)

KSCheah said...

Hi Sam,

Thanks for your comments on advertizing and PR which elaborates what I mentioned as "branding wars" in the last paragraph.

My post was not about branding per se. Cheers.