The rise of streaming services on the Internet was a revolutionary shift when it came to the world of media. No more would content be pumped in to homes in a one-way fashion, broadcast by major conglomerates and government-run organizations. Instead, individuals would be free to hunt for content suiting their own desires on an all-you-can-watch basis.
It’s led to a paradigm shift in the way we consume media. However, it’s also led to immense frustration thanks to the overwhelming amount of content on offer. Let’s take a look at why that is, and some creative ways you can get around the problem.
The Paradox of Choice
Traditionally, when it came to media, there were two major arms of delivery: broadcast, and home media. One might listen to the radio, or flick on the TV, or alternatively, spin up a record, or select a movie to watch on tape. If none of those options sufficed, one might take a walk down to the local video store to rent something more appealing.
Fundamentally, it was an era in which choices were limited. There were a handful of TV stations to choose from, and if nothing good was on, you could go as far as finding something watchable on tape or going without. Many will remember afternoons and evenings spent watching reruns or a Friday night movie that had been on a million times before. Some shows went as far as becoming legends for their seemingly endless replay, from The Simpsons to M*A*S*H.
As the Internet grew, though, the game started to change. Torrent websites and streaming services came along, offering up the sum total of the world’s cultural output for free, or for a nominal cost for those averse to piracy. Suddenly when it came to choosing a movie to watch, one wasn’t limited to the five or so films on at the local cinema, nor what was left on the shelves at the local video rental. Instead, virtually any movie, from the invention of the format, could be yours to watch at a moment’s notice.
With so many options on the table, many of us find it harder to choose. It’s an idea popularly known as the Paradox of Choice, a term popularized by US psychologist Barry Schwartz in 2004. When our options are limited to a select few, choice is easy. They can quickly be compared and ranked and an ideal option chosen.
Add thousands of choices to the pile, and the job escalates in complexity to the point of becoming overwhelming. With so many different choices to contrast and compare, finding the mythical right choice becomes practically impossible. Continue reading “The Joy Of Broadcast Media Vs. The Paradox Of Choice”