Enough already! Option fatigue.

We certainly deserved a little television time after working in 90-degree heat all day. The reward for productivity, just a little downtime in front of the telly.  Despite the many offerings already clogging the DVR we opted for our Netflix queue thinking we’d pick up where we last left off with a favorite British serial. The curmudgeonly Doc Martin was somewhere mid-third season when we last visited…but where was he now?  Yikes! Apparently ousted from “instant view” and relegated to the “mail only” queue. 

Good-naturedly we flexed to the DVR. Lots to choose from here, yet several minutes into our selection technical difficulties interfered, and the signal alternately interrupted either the picture or the sound.  Back and forth, turning on then off, flipping between channels, something had invaded the recording quality and we soon realized this was anything but relaxing.  In a burst of irritation, our enthusiasm disappeared.

The odd thing about this all-too- long episode is I didn’t really want to watch TV in the first place, but I did sense an increasing demand to watch and purge some shows from the bulging queue, I suppose to make room for more shows I probably also wouldn’t watch in a timely manner.  I also felt a struggle to keep up with the 300 movies and documentaries in my Netflix instant queue. Although we rarely have the time to watch anything at all, I do think if I don’t sit down, view  something and then delete it, where will I put the new titles that come in?  If this just sounds like an odd compulsion, believe me when I say I’ve had this discussion with others.

The feelings of pressure over too many choices and the anxiety of consumer abundance may seem a little quirky, but studies indicate that we are bombarded with so many different options requiring decisions that despite our abundance, we are less satisfied, and indeed more stressed. Do we spend money on Whole Foods organic, or buy bulk?  Local or imported? Specialty store, mall or on-line?  Do you want fries with that? So many options in a land of such abundance and you’d think we’d be better off.  But for many of us, it adds up to clogging our senses.  Overload!

So the funny thing is that when our TV options proved a bust, I was actually relieved.  The DVR queue is not a to-do list! All this may simply prove I have some weird quirks, but I think it does go deeper than that.  I need quiet and rest, and the universe delivered.  I really don’t know what this realization will mean long-term, but for now I will try to let go of the concern that my DVR may be full and unable to tape anything further until I do some major watching (or deleting).

Even my radio was sending me odd messages this morning.  Although it’s never happened before, a Chinese language feed all but drowned out any chance of tuning into my favorite talk shows.  Odd coincidence or cosmic push?  Not sure, but I’m listening.


Some really interesting articles:

Too many choices can tax the brain, research shows – Los Angeles Times.

The Paralyzing Problem of Too Many Choices – NYTimes.com.

Consumerism–Too many choices

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