Netflix and Why Options Are Bad For You

I will make your life better by taking away your choices.

I probably sound crazy right now. Let me change your mind.

How often do you find yourself drowning in a vast, empty sea of television shows and movies without giving a single shit about which one you watch? It’s like walking down the aisle in a grocery store and searching through an endless variety of laundry detergents when all you want to do is get that damn stain out of your good shirt.

As it turns out, there’s a reason for this uncertainty you experience when browsing through too many options. It’s called the Paradox of Choice. I came across this feeling first on Netflix. I found myself never being quite satisfied with whatever I watch on the brilliant streaming service.

That’s where Netflixr comes into play. A quick bookmarklet that will give you just a few random options from the Netflix page you’re currently viewing. It’s pretty simple, but sometimes that’s the way it should be. Mindless television should be a bit more mindless.

With more options comes more responsibility.

Think of it like this: Given a thirty minute break for lunch, you have enough time to heat up a quick meal and watch something before getting back to work, with a little wiggle room to get your mac n cheese to the right temperature. The longer it takes you to decide between It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the Office, or Derek, or anything else, that’s less time you get to eat and enjoy your damn television show.

Turns out, I wasn’t the only one thinking this way. Sheena Iyengar, who literally studies how people choose, has a TED talk about the very same topic. In it, Iyengar mentions that more options will sometimes make it more difficult for people to commit. She then goes on to mention a few ways to make that decision easier for the consumer. One of those ways? You guessed it. Cutting options.

I will make your life better by taking away your choices.

Who’s crazy now? 😉

As usual, to install the Netflixr bookmarklet, drag this link to your address bar. Simply click on the bookmark on any Netflix page, and viola!