The Paradox of Choice
P: When I think of Google, I think of the book I read last year by renounced American psychologist Barry Schwartz. The ‘Paradox of Choice’ talks about how less is more and how paradoxically the more options we have left makes us unhappy sometimes even anxious.
So it’s not a coincidence when I said Google reminded me of the ‘paradox of choices’. We, young people, have a very paradoxically digital well being. Our parents seem to view us as the privileged bunch, born in the age of the internet, having more job opportunities than anyone could imagine. And of course, they aren’t wrong. At that time they literally had four options, ‘Engineer, Doctor, Lawyer, Defence’. Being born with the internet revolution, nobody could foresee the effects of what would come to be.
As Barry mentioned in the book, “The more choice one has the more confused we are.” The good news is that Google could be the boon or bane to your existence. And it all depends on you!
N: While I do agree with Payal on how these unlimited choices confuse us, I still think most of us don’t go beyond the first page of a google search and there are always hundreds of pages for any given search. So, while Google gives some options, I think what I do use google most for is simply to search for answers, like reviews about a movie, a book, a building or for translation, or maps.
The mother of all searches
N: When you pause to think about it, when was the last time you tried to byheart something, to remember something in your brain? I have become so dependent on google that I don’t even bother remembering the result I google for the next time. Because the answer is always at my fingertips, isn’t it?
I don’t know how to get to my friend’s house, I use google maps and it leads me step by step, from which turn to take to which road has the least traffic.
I don’t know what to gift my cousin one-year-old boy for her birthday, I Google things to gift for a one-year-old boy and options line up in front of me like never before. I don’t know what a particular fruit is called in English but I know it in my mother tongue, I use Google translate and there you go, I am the master of all languages.
And the next time I need to go to my friend’s house/ translate the fruits name, I still have a high chance of still using the app instead of relying on my memory. Simply put, Google has weakened our memory power. We simply refuse to remember all details. I will just have to Google Leonardo Da Caprio and ship, it will tell me the name of the movie I am thinking about. I never have to remember anything. And unfortunately, I don’t.
Meet the Maximzers & Satisficers
P: Having Google at our fingertips 24/7 and not knowing what we can do can sometimes leave us in a downward spiral. As the book says, there are two kinds of people the ‘Maximizers’ are the ones that go through all the choices, yet are never able to reach a conclusion, because they haven’t found the ‘right one. So they are mostly left feeling anxious and unhappy with their outcome.
On the other hand, we have the ‘Satisficers’ who see one or more options, make a choice. They don’t feel the need to check out the rest. They are happy, and they don’t look back at their decision.
After reading that book, I noticed my own patterns. I would google masters courses, & literally within minutes, I’m overwhelmed by the options. It’s always such a daunting task. I would slip back to my old habits aka the comfort zone. All of us go through this being online, thanks to the Algothrims, that never leave our side. Amazon shows us “Similar Items” which sometimes leaves us scrolling for hours “trying” to figure out the “right” one.
N: My friends have recently started an outdoor adventure company that takes people rock climbing, trekking, etc in Dehradun and during this lockdown, I sat down with them to see how Google ranks its sites and its SEO. I realised how you improve your ranking to come on the first page of Google search so that people come to your website and you get more customers.
That was the first time I realized how important it is to be on the first pages of search engines. Otherwise, no one has the time to look at more. You usually click on the first few links you see, get your answers and leave. But now I know, being on the top page does help your company grow. They are still on the second page when you search for rock climbing in Dehradun, but they came from page 5, so Google search and organic movement are important for so many businesses.
Giving your location on google maps does help people find you easily. Rating and reviewing places on google do help people in judging a place and trusting it more. Businesses can grow on Google. It does help if your online presence is prominent. We seen to trust google and its reviews, which is why Google is very important in our lives.
‘Maximize’ Your Time on Google
Next time before jumping onto Google, make a list of 3 outcomes you want. Because we can get easily sidetracked, and after a 30 minutes online we could have literally got nothing out of it.
We are all maximizers and satisfiers in our lives. It’s up to us to realize that our digital well being depends on us. Are we maximizing our time on apps or are we on it just because our friends are on it?
We sure cant live without Google anymore, and there is no denying that. But we can try to take a conscious effort to maybe reduce our usage and depend on our memory a little now and then. It is good to flex those muscles too after all, isn’t it? 😉