Bookshelf spectrum by Pietro Bellini. Used under Creative Commons license.
After years of companies offering – and boasting – the consumer more and more choice, we have now seen this privilege falling out of favour.
In the mid-90s Amazon appeared and said something like: “Name a book. Name ANY fucking book. Got it? Yea well we fucking have that.”
Similarly, eBay came along: “Remember the 70s? Remember the bell-bottom trousers you had that made you look fucking ridiculous? Yea? Well you can buy a pair exactly like the one you had from some chick who has got too fat for them.”
And on it goes: what TV you want to watch when and on what, here’s 239 car insurers all offering a completely unique coverage for basically the same price, oh and while you’re at it would you like a coffee? Great, there’s 75,000 different combinations to choose from.
Initially we were enthralled by the options but now even a small decision like choosing your lunch can make you dissolve into a shivering wreck.
The internet, having been the officer of choice, has responded to this dilemma by still allowing you the choice but adding the pressure of giving you, like, 24 measly hours to decide.
One of the earliest examples of these “flash sales” is BrandAlley, giving credit card-happy fashionistas just enough time to extend their overdraft to buy some Prada boots, lest they lose their chance forever. Recently I have fallen victim to the housewares equivalent Achica.
This has also extended to local offers, like Groupon et al, where the only winners are the agents, while the business owner makes almost no profit and the customer is treated like a second-class citizen.
However, more recently it’s become fashionable to not get a choice at all. I’m subscribing to at least three things that treat me as a child incapable of making a decision and I LOVE it. I get my desk snacks from Graze and my beauty products from Glossybox. I also get a ‘showroom’ of shoes generated by StylistPick, but I never get any because nothing upsets me more than shoe-shopping. Nothing.
All-in-all i’m quite happy experiencing new things which I have no control over. Perhaps the art of non-choice is here to stay. It’s not all so bad. Here, have some Cat Gifs generated for you.