A one horse town with one saloon doesn’t require a food critic. A two book library (Analects of Confucius + Tao Te Ching, the Holy Bible + Augustine’s Confessions, etc) needs no Sunday Book Review. As a pre-teen, I was perfectly happy to listen to the soundtracks to Les Miz, the Phantom of the Opera, and Annie (it was very self-affirming) but at some point I became aware of a wide world of music. An early crush introduced me to the Violent Femmes by singing Blister in the Sun in chemistry class, somewhere around the same time, I learned about the existence of Casey Kasem and Rick Dees and the weekly Top 40.
I still relied on either actual friends (ones with older siblings and better hair to tell my ultra nerdy self what was cool) or on myself to figure out what I did and didn’t like on the radio (Tom Petty yes, Richard Marx not so much.)
Now I rely on others. Yelp.com I can take with multiple teaspoons of salt, since everyone gets in a tizzy about service, but I also am reluctant to go somewhere without _any_ Yelp reviews. (Paranoid internal thought process: is it a front? do they have a trapdoor that leads to a room with kidnapper & a chloroform rag?) Those handy dandy music mp3 blogs have replaced afternoons standing in a record store. And even when I want to make an impulse purchase of an As Seen On Tv item, I still look it up on my phone while standing in checkout line.
Damn you internet, I can make my own decisions.
More real discussion on deciderating from The Millions blog:
In his introduction to Best American Essays 2007, Wallace writes almost cordially about his part in the “deciderization” process, but he then breaks character to rail against the American loss of mental free agency. Just as he is part of an outsourcing tradition of a venerable anthology, Wallace notes that “we are starting to become more aware of just how much subcontracting and outsourcing and submitting to other Deciders we’re all now forced to do, which is threatening (the inchoate awareness is) to our sense of ourselves as intelligent free agents.” True to his style, Wallace couldn’t help but see symbolism in an otherwise flattering role as guest editor. The impish shape he saw in the shadow of an editorial temp was the burden of human thought and moral resolve gladly surrendering to others because, in part, big issues are made to seem too complex and impossible to grasp, which, of course, suggests that we need specialists to delegate our minds to. He says, “And yet there is no clear alternative to this outsourcing and submission. It may possibly be that acuity and taste in choosing which Deciders one submits to is now the real measure of informed adulthood. Since I was raised with more traditional, enlightenment-era criteria, this possibility strikes me as consumerist and scary.”