Saturday, February 27, 2010


Interesting article in the NYT yesterday about choices. I'm interested in choices because I'm so phenomenally lousy at making them: At any given life crossroads, major or minor, I may freeze up, weep, holler, gnash my teeth, whine for help, hide, or shiver.

Which delicious breakfast item should I order? (howl; grovel).

Whom should I marry? (implode).

You get the idea.

(To those of you who have had to endure my company while I was in the throes of decision making -my deepest apologies.)

But it turns out I'm not alone. According to Alina Tugend's column, research suggests that humans confronted with too many choices become paralyzed. We may think we want unlimited choice, but what we really want is the appearance of unlimited choice. When it comes time to do the choosing, we want a few options or, even better, none.

This really resonates with me. I am happiest when I make small, emotionally weightless choices between a few carefully curated options. I like tiny bookstores and farmers' markets, the only flight available and the only course I can take. Choice is supposedly about freedom, but for me it stokes fear and self-doubt.

I can't shake the feeling that the scale of things is wrong these days. Everything -cities, stores, cars, social networks- is too big. Our small-scale human brains are ill-equipped to deal with our enlarged lives. We operate best on the human level: our globalized, scaled-up, macro-economized world is simply beyond our ken.

I don't know how to get back to a world that fits. Advice -or wholesale disagreement- welcome.

Also, here is a picture of a cat. Because I like cats. And because I had trouble choosing a picture to go with this blog entry.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I completely agree. Choices paralyze me. And then I get embarrassed.
Also, I love your last three sentences of this post.