Caught in Toothpaste Hell
Earlier today I experienced a moment of clarity. It happened in the grocery store in the toothpaste aisle. I was looking over all the options-whitening, tartar control, with baking soda, mint, fluoride protection, gum control, enamel hardening, plaque removal, mouth wash embedded, and literally dozens of other choice debating which one I wanted. “This one’s ten cents an ounce more, but has whitening, but this one’s the cheapest and has cavity protection. Ooh! This one up top has everything. At least it claims to have everything. Seems like an awful lot to stick in a single tube.How do you fit all that into a paste?” And so on.
And then it hit me. I have no idea what any of these features mean. I barely know what toothpaste is and really don’t care. As long as it’s doesn’t say “guaranteed to rot your gums, burn your teeth and split your tongue in half” I don’t care what it has. To me, they’re all the same, and the fact that I’ve ever spent more than ten seconds on useless choices like this one is the real shame.
I was a bit struck to find out how much scholarly debate has happened on exactly this subject. Malcolm Gladwell talks about it below.
And for the final word, check out Barry Schwartz's TED Talk, the man who wrote The Paradox of Choice:Why More is Less.