The Paradox of Choice & My Dislike of Theatres
The paradox of choice is something I don’t enjoy coming into confrontation with. I look at a library of hundreds of Steam games and because of the sheer vastness of options I am crippled. I cannot choose, I merely stare and wonder. Minutes pass. Then hours. Soon I wish I had found something better to do with that time. It’s a strange feeling and one that I find a lot of trouble complaining about. When people say that you should never complain about more options I don’t think they understand the ramifications of that belief taken to its ultimate conclusion.
You can very easily give someone enough options to ruin them outright. I experience it any time I go to the grocery store. The sheer vastness of options is just too much for me. This is one of the reasons I love that we’ve started working with the rule that we must be able to describe or understand everything on the ingredients label. This knocks out a good 70% of the things you could buy at your local Safeway which reduces the variety of the store from insurmountable to merely inconvenient.
Tonight I really did lose a lot of time to this problem. I find that when choices overwhelm me I regress into my own brain. I begin thinking about things, anything at all, in order to get my mind off the choices that have crippled me. I don’t wish to walk away from the problem because I in some way consider that surrendering. Yet to do so would be the wisest of choices. This same problem can happen when a decision must be made but the choice is of what I could alternatively do in that period of time.
Need to get groceries? That will take roughly so many minutes. My brain then asks me what else I could be doing in that time. Next it starts to quantify the hedonistic value of each of the possible outcomes. The next thing I know I’m thinking in something akin to spreadsheets trying to divine which choice is best. Which thing will make me regret my decisions today the least?
Once I’ve gone down that road I usually find that I’m not happy with whatever happened.
A choice I did manage to make recently was going to the movies to see Captain America 2. It’s a fantastic movie, perhaps one of my favorite ever, I’ll write about it again soon. If you haven’t seen it you probably should, but I say that also thinking that you should never suffer a movie theater. The modern theater experience is a vile place.
Movie theaters are to me much like public bathrooms. They are a place for people to spew shit that nobody else wants to sense. It keeps flowing like some kind of verbal diarrhea from the first frame of a film until the last. No matter where I sit, no matter how long I wait, no matter how much I wish it to not be so, I’m always watching a film with talkers. Captain America 2 took it up a notch. The guys in the front center of the theater were shouters.
Scarlet Johannsen appears on screen and the guy shouts something at her as if she is going to leap out of the screen and bone him. He then takes it upon himself to narrate the film at the most inappropriate times. Whenever this exceptional film caught him speechless (an amazing feat) the family behind me took that opportunity to whisper louder than the film about the most mundane things. The Smithsonian appears on screen and the very second it does I hear the woman behind me gasp to her partner “That’s the Smithsonian!”
I appreciate her love for museums, but this is not the place. There has never been a word spoken at any movie in all of history that couldn’t have waited until after the film was over. Every question ever uttered could be better answered once the film was through. Every comment ever compounded would be better enjoyed later. Every little inkling in every little mind has been, without exception, utterly unnecessary in the movie theater.
If you have ever in your life thought you had something worth saying in a movie during the movie you are wrong. Unequivocably it is unnecessary and you are doing nobody any favors by speaking.
You, I, and all others who have ever been and ever will be are not smart enough that we can improve a film by speaking during its runtime.
Jesus could come down from on the heavens and watch Captain America 2 and there is not a single word he could speak that would do the film better. At best he could provide the viewers with wine and turn people who talk into pillars of salt.
The odds that this will reach those most needing of the message are slim and none. But if you ever go with me to the movies understand this one truth above all others. At any point while watching a film I will never want to know what you are thinking. I will never want to know your insights into the film. I will not want your quips about something funny happening on screen. The other 80 people in the room ever more so.
Save it until the credits start rolling so that we may instead burst into joyous children. Given a new birth after a long cleansing from the dinginess of life that we brought in.
I may not say it but in my heart I will thank you.