In the past, I’ve posted RSA Animate videos based upon Sir Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms speech and Iain McGilchrist’s discussion of the divided human brain. This week, let’s take a look at another terrific animated video from Professor Renata Salecl. The video is called “Choice,” and Salecl examines why choice causes anxiety, guilt, and – paradoxically – indecision as opposed to freedom.
Since we are facing an election year, I think Salecl’s speech is really important. If she’s arguing that choice prevents social change, what in the world are we going to do about the terrifying conditions we’re in?
Salecl’s powerful content makes us take a closer look at capitalism. Our American economic system is praised because people have the power and freedom of choice; it’s a great thing! But if we feel worse about ourselves when we make a choice, I wonder if there is some merit to eliminating all of these choices we have. As Malcolm Gladwell explains in his TED Talk (you must watch it here), do we really need 6,000 different jars of spaghetti sauce in the grocery store? We’ll never be happy with the one we picked! Look at our divorce rate (nearly 50%) compared to cultures with arranged marriages… Now, I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t be free to marry the person we’re in love with, but we’re never satisfied with that husband or wife because we’re never satisfied with our choice. There’s always something better out there.
Can we ever learn to make ourselves happy with our choices? Is capitalism to blame? What are your thoughts on Salecl and Gladwell’s ideas on the power of choice?