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Living in a culture of unlimited choice leads to dissatisfaction and anxiety, says professor Renata Salecl. The world of limitless options is immobilizing.1 The resulting “choice anxiety” can manifest itself in various ways. Here are two symptoms Salecl references:

Addiction to idealism. In a sea of countless options we seek to cope with dissatisfaction by acquiring new careers, new partners, new apps, new devices, new service providers, new organizational systems… Each “new object” or “new way” promises to move us closer to some kind of ideal state. The problem is that there are increasingly more new options — and thus new notions of the ideal — which results in a crippling, seismic addiction to “the next thing.”

Constant loss. The more decisions you make in a day the more loss you experience: when you choose one possibility you tend to lose another possibility by natural consequence. Salecl suggests that since capitalist culture is built on the expansion and multiplication of choice, we live with an increasing pressure of anxiety lurking unsuspectingly behind every decision we make. How do we tame and quell this anxiety? We keep trying to make “ideal choices” to achieve the “ideal life” and the cycle perpetuates itself further.