The Fear of Missing Out
Jerry Koh

This is exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, with particular regard to where I want to live. I’ve been trying to decide which city I want to live in for months, if not longer, and while I recently decided on Montreal, I’m constantly second guessing myself.

I’ve been reading about the effects that all this choice has on us from a psychological perspective, and I thought you might find it interesting. Barry Schwartz wrote a book called The Paradox of Choice where he argued that this explosion of choice has two negative effects on us.

One effect, paradoxically, is that it produces paralysis, rather than liberation. With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all. […] The second effect is that even if we manage to overcome the paralysis and make a choice, we end up less satisfied with the result of the choice than we would be if we had fewer options to choose from.

If you want a quick introduction to his argument, check out his TED Talk, where the above quote comes from. As a result of this revelation, I’ve been trying to reduce the number of choices I have to make in the course of a day. It’s basically an effort to live more simply so I can better enjoy the act of living (but still very much a work-in-progress).

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