How to free yourself from media choice paralysis

Lewin Day wrote about The Joy Of Broadcast Media Vs. The Paradox Of Choice for Hackaday on 25th May:

With so many options on the table, many of us find it harder to choose. It’s an idea popularly known as the Paradox of Choice, a term popularized by US psychologist Barry Schwartz in 2004. When our options are limited to a select few, choice is easy. They can quickly be compared and ranked and an ideal option chosen.

Add thousands of choices to the pile, and the job escalates in complexity to the point of becoming overwhelming. With so many different choices to contrast and compare, finding the mythical right choice becomes practically impossible.

Anyone who’s ever jumped on a streaming service to hunt for something to watch  will be familiar with the paralyzing feeling. Rows of colored icons streaming past, barely-recognizable titles fluttering by. Each scroll seeking for a simple standout option, but only revealing yet more to choose from. The pressure builds with the knowledge that making a bad choice is surely inexcusable when virtually everything ever filmed is an option. Whether you’re looking for a movie to watch or you just want to catch an old episode of Cheers out of the hundreds that were madethe sheer volume of choices is overwhelming.

Lewin’s main suggestion for respite is relinquishing control and just watching whatever comes up or using random movie pickers. At least if you don’t like it, you can just turn it off and if you do like it, job done.

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For me, that doesn’t always work so well unless it’s something like The Simpsons where I know I can jump into anything from Season 2/3–10 and enjoy it. I pay for Prime Video and YouTube Premium but don’t watch the former that frequently. I have access to Netflix and Disney+ but rarely use them. That’s four streaming platforms which tens of thousands of shows between them and it’s honestly too much. But the kicker? When I decide I want to watch a movie… it’s not part of their libraries. I still have to pay for them and that cost starts to add up if I start getting a hankering for movies starring a certain actor, director, or from a specific genre. So I’m left with a whole lot of movies and series I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch and that’s before we even get into quality control (Netflix is notoriously bad for this; just look at how they’d rather fund transphobic stand up comedy than pay Black writers and keep their platforms going). No wonder people still pirate.

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