Does Instagram Direct Give Us One Option Too Many?

comicembedPhoto: Courtesy The Joy of Tech.
Instagram debuted a new service last week called Instagram Direct, which allows users to share photos with individuals or groups rather than just their entire group of followers. With that, it introduced yet another option for digital communication, which might not be a good thing for people who have difficulty making choices. In a new comic by The Joy of Tech, authors Nitrozac and Snaggy suggest that Instagram Direct could be one option too many, leading a man to completely shut down.
Joy of Tech might be joking, but there's more than a little truth behind this observation. In 2004, psychologist Barry Schwartz penned an article for Scientific American in which he described the "tyranny of choice" that we face when we are presented with an abundance of options. While it is "logical to think that if some choice is good, more is better," he wrote, too many options can actually produce feelings of anxiety of dread.
He cites the research of several social scientists that demonstrate "increased choice and increased affluence have, in fact, been accompanied by decreased well-being in the U.S. and most other affluent societies." Some people in particular, who he terms "maximizers," always try to compare and find the best possible product among many. For them, choices have built-in opportunity costs: Choosing one product means losing the opportunities that a different one would have provided. This can create anxiety, and even depression. "Sometimes," wrote Schwartz, "opportunity costs may create enough conflict to produce paralysis."
That's not to say that Instagram Direct is going to throw you into a melancholic spiral — at least, not on its own. (Slate's Jessica Winter, however, argues that Instagram "distills the most crazy-making aspects of the Facebook experience.") But, as our increasingly digital society continues to grow and our options within it multiply, it's worth thinking about: Maybe choice isn't all it's cracked up to be. (Mashable)

More from Tech

Pokémon Go was this year's biggest app sensation. Within 24 hours of its launch, the game became a mega hit and has since seen users walking billions of ...
For the second time this month, earthlings of the Western Hemisphere will experience a special event involving our moon. Earlier this month, we got our ...
If you want to look up information about your favorite celebrities, your first instinct is probably to google them. But depending on who you're curious ...
GENERATION STARTUP presents Women In Tech, an episode of an exclusive web series with footage left on the cutting room floor. The feature documentary ...
Complaining today is much easier than it used to be. Lost luggage, bad service, extra charges, broken products — you used to have to put a letter in the ...
It's Google's 18th birthday which means it can finally see all the porn it serves up
Tonight marks the first of three presidential debates between candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Because of the debate's close proximity to New...
(Paid Content) Refinery29 is now on Versy, a messaging and content-sharing app made for busy people like us
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) developed a phone app that will assist you in recording and reporting police conduct. The app, Mobile Justice, ...
If you aren't registered to vote, don't panic. As a matter of fact, thanks to Snapchat, you can now do it in just one minute, reports Time. The social-...
You may start to notice your Uber drivers snapping a lot of selfies, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you're riding with an Instagram addict. Your ...
Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel announced that the company has developed new video-enabled sunglasses, called Spectacles, and will subsequently be rebranding ...
You're at 20,000 feet, and you realize your flight doesn’t have WiFi — which wouldn't be a big deal, except you forgot your book at home, and none of your ...
It's a sad but true fact that a bad commute — one where you just miss the bus or subway — has the power to ruin your day. More often than not, these near...