My formative years were during the 1970s. Life was much simpler back then:
We only had 4 TV channels to choose from
There was nothing like Netflix or Hulu; there weren’t even video stores back then
There was no such thing as the Internet or e-mail
There was no Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, or Instagram
There were no cell phones or text messages
Pong and Space Invaders were the only available video games
Now we have exponentially more choices in these things as well as many other areas of life. The problem is that too many choices can exhaust us, make us unhappy, and/or lead us to sometimes avoid making decisions. Researcher Barry Schwartz calls this “choice overload.”
As the number of options increases, the costs, in time and effort, of gathering the information needed to make a good choice also increase. The level of certainty people have about their choice decreases. And the anticipation that they will regret their choice increases. Schwartz
Even though many people think that there is no such thing as too many choices, as psychologists and economists study the issue, they are concluding that an overload of options may actually paralyze people or push them into decisions that are against their own best interest. I remember how I felt going into a supermarket in America after having lived in Jordan for 2 years: OVERWHELMED! I couldn’t wait to get out of there! Why do I need 20 different options for toothpaste or ketchup?
Sometimes I wonder if our social etiquette practices have also changed as a result of too many choices and options. It used to be that if someone sent you a letter in the mail, you answered that letter in a timely fashion. These days, all of us have had the situation where we get an e-mail, Facebook message, or text that we forget to answer because it gets buried in the pile of all the other messages we’ve gotten. Not only that, but getting that message interrupts and distracts us from whatever we’re doing at that moment. That could be work, visiting with a friend, having a serious conversation with a family member, or having a quiet time. Our vast media options are also having a significantly negative impact on our personal relationships. We are more connected electronically and less connected personally.
No matter how much noise, distraction, and worldly input we were exposed to growing up, our adult children have had it much worse. They have every kind of electronic device vying for their attention. Some young adults have had their ears, eyes, and minds plugged into something other that the Lord for years. Whatever captures their eyes and ears will also capture their minds and hearts. Stormie Omartian
In this day and age, it is much tougher to “make the main thing the main thing”; to “keep our eye on the prize”; and to avoid the “bunny trails” of life because there are more distractions around us than ever before. Like people used to put blinders on horses to keep them on track, we need to develop habits that help us be focused on the important things of life.
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously. Micah 6:8
I have found that simplifying in life usually brings freedom:
Less to worry about
Less to keep up with
Less to maintain
Less to clean
Less to clutter
More time for quiet reflection, relationships, and relaxation
Less is truly more