We all know just how complex and confusing buying has become for anything electronic or containing electronics. Computers, smartphones, and televisions, all have enough features confusing enough to baffle Houdini.
Even appliances and cars now contain so many electronics that you need to take your kid shopping with you just to explain what they are. We all know and grudgingly accept that these things are inherently confusing and require massive research.
However, lost in all this is the fact that even common, non-electronic everyday items have morphed into a baffling array of choices.
So, I’d like to talk just a bit about this trend of taking common products and loading them up with “features” and different variations.
Let’s take the common toothbrush, for example. Can’t get more basic than that, right? Many years ago, there were a couple of major brands and basically three styles: soft, medium, and hard bristles. Choosing one was simple and fast.
Here’s the description on the package for one toothbrush I saw in the grocery store recently: “The rippled bristles are designed to reach thirty-nine percent farther between the teeth. The tapered head, angled neck, and unique no-slip handle with the exclusive thumb groove mean more cleaning power at your fingertips.”
A thirty-nine percent farther reach? How do they even determine that? It sat alongside no less than eleven other brands, all with various styles and features.
Worse yet, go to Amazon and search for “manual toothbrushes”. It will return 20 pages of results, which is over 300 separate items. For toothbrushes. The selection and list of features are breathtaking.
My favorite one described itself as follows: “Bamboo toothbrush set with travel toothbrush case. Pack of 3 Natural Bamboo toothbrushes and biodegradable toothbrush holder organizer. Recycled individual packaging, soft bristle, BPA free.”
My guess is that this one was designed by an environmental activist dentist whose hobby is woodworking.
This trend extends to many previously simple and generic products:
- razor blades (156 pages of results on Amazon)
- coffee (190 pages)
- combs (400 pages, I kid you not)
- shoelaces (400 pages, I’m not making this up)
- water (83 pages… for water! Go see for yourself, you can’t make this stuff up)
I could go on and on but you get the picture. Your typical retail store of course doesn’t carry this wide a selection, but still more than enough to make your choice of something simple like shampoo take more time than it takes to choose the surgeon that is going to remove your brain tumor.
I believe that all these choices greatly increase the stress of everyday living. I cringe when I think about what it now takes to sift through the choices of something just a bit more complex.
Like, say, a can opener. 66 pages of results on Amazon. It would be easier to just pry the can open with a screwdriver than to have to pick one. Except for the fact that you’ll have to weed through 20 pages of results to find that screwdriver.