Choice. Freedom. Illusion?

Choice. Freedom. Illusion?

Does it ever happen to you that you walk into a supermarket and you have ten brands of ketchup on the shelf and you don’t know which one to buy? Or do you overwhelm yourself, trying to find an item at the sweet intersection of price and value on Amazon, be it a fridge magnet or the fridge itself?

I know I get confused all the time.

You turn on Netflix or Primevideo, hoping others have not logged in, and you sit there, again, scrolling endlessly. You don’t know what you want to watch. (Unless you have cable/dish tv which means you at least know which terrible daily soap you want to waste your hours on.)

We understand this well with social media now. Be it on any of the feeds—YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or Clubhouse (does it have a feed? can you please send me an invite? #fomo) At this point infinite scroll is a bug and not a feature—a design decision leading to user indecision, feeding our ever depleting attention in the ever expanding ‘attention economy’. It is a sort of ‘poverty’ caused by abundance (that isn’t my original idea, like everything else I usually write. Find out who said the ‘poverty-abundance’ thingy in issue #3 of Sunday Slant).

Nothing about living is infinite. It is overwhelming when the options are ‘endless’ to buy flavoured milk even, enough to make you pause and take a walk up to the stationary section and trigger your kleptomania.

And, yet, that is exactly what so many of us crave for—limitless possibilities.

And when you stretch that logic to the big intangibles of life, it becomes so much more difficult, like the choice of a partner, a career or the all time favourite activity of millenials—a hyper focus on our ephemeral feelings.

‘You can be anything you want’, ‘You can do anything you want’. Can I really? Is it that absolute? Even if I like to believe that to be largely true, I do think some sort of a restriction is good. This comes with the stringent caveat that the restriction must come from the self—not from society or the state, least of all from toxic family members. Or it must come from someone you trust.

Routine is good. ‘Boring’ is sometimes necessary. And ‘balance’, probably, is everything.

This segues well to introduce a novel concept that I often wrestle with, known as Procrastination. ‘Endless possibilities’ often leads me to doing nothing. I’m embarrassed to admit how long it took me to finally sit my tush down to write this because I coul—36hours.

As the little girl says, in one of the best videos I’ve watched on procrastination, “The perfect distance for doing nothing, is when you have the constant chance to do something.”

I felt attacked.

One 'ridiculous thing' that I have started to do is setting alarms. I decide how much time I am going to spend on something, set an alarm and try my hardest to drop it and move on when the phone buzzes. It seems like a necessary step for someone with obsessive tendencies like myself. I need to find more such hacks/constraints.

For there’s one thing that is certainly not limitless and that is my time here.

(that little girl video)