Choice: Too Much of a Good Thing?

Our toaster broke yesterday. Not being the most technical minded, my attempt at trying to fix it seems to have made it worse (I checked the fuse and any obvious loose cables), so, frustratingly, we had to go out and buy a new one (can’t live without toast, toast is one of the Idlers staple food stuffs…).

2 things annoyed me about the whole situation.

1) The toaster was just over a year old. Is that the built in lifespan of white goods now (conspiracy theorists would tell you it was designed to break just after the warranty ran out)? The idea of built in obsolescence annoys me and is purely designed to make us consume more and more (the toaster was obviously not designed to be able to be mended, you cannot take it apart without breaking it further). It is totally irresponsible and done just to make a quick buck. What happened to the “make do and mend” culture?

2) So, we had to go off and by a new toaster. We popped off to Argos down the road and found 60 (yes SIXTY!) different types of toasters to choose from. Do we really need 60 different types of toasters?! That overwhelming level of choice just creates a decision paralysis where you cannot make up your mind and just stare at the list like a buffoon for hours. In my “personal development” days when I was a bit of a “Ra, ra” Motivational Trainer type I used to say that the more choice you have the happier you would be. Now I know that is nonsense: too much choice just creates indecision and stress. Read “The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less” by Barry Schwartz for more details and very compelling argument about limited our choices

Actually make that 3 things!

3) On a personal note, I have realised how impractical I am, so I am off to learn some basic repairing skills! Any suggestions of ways to learn? Good books?

So, to try and save something from this, if anyone wants a broken toaster and think they can fix it, let me know, it is all yours…