The paradox of choice has finally crushed me

Life used to be much simpler. When I was growing up, we got a newspaper delivered each day. I was excited to pick it up and skim the front page, sports page, and entertainment section. As I got older even the business section. I liked the fact everyone else was seeing the same news and we could discuss it later. I could tell immediately what the editors had felt was important by the size of the font they chose. I knew someone taking the time to make an article prominent and printing it on paper meant it mattered. Now in today’s fast moving streams, I can’t tell if someone is throwing a link out in seriousness or whether they even read it.

On TV, there were a countable number of shows that I watched regularly. I knew when they were on each week and I’d plan ahead to watch them. Even when I got my first Tivo, I’d plan to watch the show within a few days after it aired.

The challenges of choice started when we’d go to Blockbuster to pick out a movie. We’d often wander the full store picking up 5–7 potential movies and then having a debate over which one to watch tonight. Every time we went back there were more movies, more new releases, and we’d almost start the process over from scratch. It turned a simple movie night into a 45 minute ordeal before we’d even get home to start watching the movie.

As of today I feel like declaring media bankruptcy. There are just too many links to read, too many books to read, and too many shows to watch across Netflix, HBO, Hulu, regular TV, a bazillion cable channels.

I want an editor again. Someone who knows my tastes and knows what my friends like, and what’s generally popular. I want them to whittle everything down to 1 suggestion of what I should read or watch right now. It’s tricky though — I need to make sure they really get me and they really get my mood right now. Even with that, I’d like it to be someone who isn’t just my editor but works with a lot of my friends too. Who helps create shared context and shared enthusiasm across all of us. We should all be excited to watch the next episode of something together, or to read an article and talk about what’s happening together.