Reading "The Paradox of Choice" (yes APA I capitalized "paradox" and "choice" because that's how you're supposed to do it, goddamnit!!)
Re-Make/Re-Model // Roxy Music
this week. It's about how we, as Americans especially, are becoming primarily consumers and the more choices me have, the more confused and stressed out we are becoming. I agree with the overall concept of the book (and author cites a lot of research and stuff too, as he's a psychologist, which I like) and have been thinking about it a lot. In my last blog entry I was alluding a bit to my obsession with choices. I demand their presence in every aspect of my self-expression. For example, I lovelovelove my engagement ring. It was a hand-me-down from Michael's wonderful stepmother. It's white gold with rubies and a purple sapphire (see pictures earlier in this blog). But it didn't come with the purple sapphire. It came with an unidentified white stone. So, basically it looked like a diamond, which is not a stone I could get into, though I did try.
Re-Thread // Protech
I measured the stone precisely. I went online and spent several hours a couple of different evenings until I found the "perfect" stone and I bought it. And I had it set into the ring. Because I had a personal investment in making this ring that I will wear every day, presumably most days for the rest of my life, I feel very proud of it. I stare lovingly at it every day. Does it make me a bitch that I didn't find it perfect from the very first moment I received it? I don't think so. I love the style. I love the rubies. I love that it came from a family member of Michael's and wasn't just bought somewhere. But if I hadn't somehow made it mine, I wouldn't feel so strongly about it. Yeah, it's just a ring. But it's a symbol. I love me some symbols. But this is a very American consumer choice. It was daunting picking out the sapphire because I first had to choose what color of stone I wanted. Then I researched all the New-Agey meanings of stones to narrow down a particular stone within the color. Then I had to find a website (I am primarily an online shopper) that passed all my legitimacy tests (which I had no idea what I was doing, so this took awhile). Then I had to pick out stones that were the correct size and color. Then I compared images with intense scrutiny for hours to narrow it down. A LOT of cognition was involved in this process! But it came to me and its one of the most beautiful
Reading in Bed // Metric
stones I have ever seen in my life! Which is nice, because I stare at it every day. And the point of all this blathering is that I do this with nearly everything. I'm, without a doubt, very materialistic, but I take care of my things and respect them because I put so much thought into acquiring them. Nearly every possession I own is something I value. It's almost as if I integrate my possessions into my identity once I acquire them. This is sort of f-ed up when you think about it. But this is the result, partially at least, of advertising and
Reasons to be Beautiful // Hole
consumer culture and all that. As obsessed as I am with choice, this process exhausts me tremendously. And I love making limitations to lessen these choices. Now that I've found a gem website when looking for one for my engagement ring, I will always go there anytime I need a gem again. My next gem-selecting process will be extremely simple. Brand loyalty. I will always purchase an ipod instead of some other mp3 player anytime I need a new one. Simple. I don't shop at Wal-Mart, for what I feel are ethical
Rebel Prince // Rufus Wainwright
reasons (they're overshadowing local businesses, they treat their employees unfairly, etc), but also, I've realized it's more than that. Wal-Mart is a big places with a million choices everywhere. Just thinking about going into that daunting warehouse makes me mentally deflated. The overwhelming numbers of choices within every aspect of our purchasing lives is, as Barry Schwartz calls it in the book, "tyrannical". So by eliminating Wal-Mart, I've eliminated a giant warehouse of choices. I feel liberated knowing I have taken this option away from myself. The grocery store down the street from me isn't local, but it's small and it's been there all my life. It's familiar. It's got the majority of what I need.
Recado Bossa Nova // Laurindo Almeida
This must be why brand loyalty exists. We can't go through this insane cognitive structure every single time we make a decision, choose among the masses of choices everywhere every single time. When we find something we love, we can relax. That's my brand of shoe! That's MY kind of computer!
Red Blooded Woman // Kylie Minogue
It's an adaptive human process. To account for all tastes, we have to have variety bordering on the RIDICULOUSLY excessive, but if we can't narrow it down, we wouldn't have the energy to leave our houses!! But I have to spend this initial time. The majority of things I possess I will keep until they fall apart/no longer operate. Because I spent the time agonizing over each decision, I feel I am largely free from excess and unwanted objects. For example, the sweatshirt I am now wearing, I've had for OMG, about 6 or 7 years! My corduroy orange pants, which anyone who knows me has seen
Red Rain // White Stripes
me wear a million times, I've had since 2001! They're almost a part of me. I still wear them at least once a week. I mean, that's a DECISION with lasting effects! Choice is a big deal. We are choosing every single second of every day. What we do, what we wear, where we go or don't go, everything. It's overwhelming and exciting and philosophical and importantimportantimportant. Be cognizant of your choices, boys and girls. And be happy when you can eliminate options among the multitudes.