stuff-alanche? sheesh, learn to deal!

A friend of mine sent me a link to a UK guardian article which is basically a big whine about the complexity of life.

To me it sounds like he’s blaming a lack of purchasing self-control on society providing him with choices. In the 70s there were still plenty of books to buy and not read. Why should everyone give up such a wealth of opportunities simply because one journalist lacks discipline?

When I was growing up I used to go with my mother to the supermarket, where you have a billion varieties of everything. My mother taught me how to analyse and make a choice based on cost, quality, and purpose, and to avoid impulse buys. When there are 10 different cans of tomatoes what do you buy and why? The value is cheapest but tends to taste like soggy cardboard, but are the really expensive ones better than the mid-prices ones? If you spend a bit of time studying your options and keep in mind what you really need you’ll spend less, enjoy your purchases more, and not have stuff you won’t use. If you took a full-grown adult who had never been to a supermarket before and told them to go shopping they would probably feel a bit overloaded, similarly if you take someone who has never been online and let them loose it can be a bit overwhelming. The question is will they learn to focus on what they want and make their own choices or let the choices make them? Whether it’s the supermarket or the internet in the end how they deal is more about their personality.

In an age where there is so much choice you have to become more discerning about what you decide to buy or see. You have to become a data connoisseur and be willing to invest the time to make good choices. It’s a skill, not some innate ability.