I was delighted yesterday to find this comment from Jose underneath my Paradox of Choice description. It is at least 100X more insightful and interesting than the post itself, and I thought I might post it up here, so all three of you can see it, lol.

“Grocery stores have researched this quite a bit. It’s how they survive (and thrive) on slim margins. They have figured out how to steer us towards what they want us to want to buy, and how to manipulate the paradox of choice in their favor.

That aside, we want choices, but we don’t want to have to =make= choices. That is, we want our choices to be curated. But we want to choose who curates them. This is part of the idea of branding and belonging – once we choose a brand or group, we stick with it in part because it relieves the need to keep choosing, so we can enjoy the thing we’ve chosen.

So, why =do= we want choices? To help think about this, imagine going to a store with a friend, and have that friend choose for you. You will have no say in the matter – you give her the generic shopping list and she fills your cart right in front of you, making the choices out of the zillions of options. You can look over the options, but cannot tell her what to put in or what to avoid (allergies aside).

How does it feel? Are you happy afterwards? Does it matter which friend you do this with?

I posit that eventually this will be the way life goes, if it’s not already doing this. Software is already choosing what news you see, who you go out with, what ads are plopped in front of you, and even literally what goes in your shopping cart (peapod anybody?) As software gets to know us better, it can make better choices for us and we’ll happily let it… until we realize that the “better” choices it is making benefits not us but them. But by then you’ll be used to robots refilling your fridge, and your not being able to fine-tune the algorithm. You won’t want to go back to manually buying every single thing you need.

Jose”

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