When Google first introduced Gmail with 1GB of storage, many people including myself was wondering why would you need that much space for your mailbox.
Over the years, the storage limit has now increased to 15GB and most of us have been trained to never delete our emails but archive them instead. By lifting the limit of our mailbox, Google has changed our behaviour.
Services like Netflix have also redefined how we consume TV series by releasing all episodes simultaneously, allowing us to binge-watch them whenever and wherever we want.
A life without limits
This always-on, all-you-can-eat, on-demand culture have permeated to almost every aspect of our society. Startups and companies are obsess with tearing down artificial walls built around the notion of scarcity, from telecommunications (Unlimited data plans), entertainment (Netflix, Spotify), transportation (Uber), food (FoodPanda), fitness (Classpass), health (Doctor on Demand) to education. (MOOCs)
We no longer have to worry about the length of our calls or which gym to join. We can get around easily without owning a car and learn almost anything from the comfort of our own home.
The internet and technology services built on it have enabled us to live our lives with almost no limits or boundaries. To many, this is the very definition of freedom and would expect nothing less.
Too many options, too little time
With thousands of websites to browse, hundreds of series to binge and endless options to fill our spare time, the fear of missing out (FOMO) becomes ever more prevalent. Before, it was hard to find what you want. Now, it's hard to decide which one you want.
Making decisions like these, however small will eventually lead to analysis paralysis. This explosion of choices and options in all aspect of our lives is taking a toll on us, both physically and mentally.
Constraint breeds creativity
It may be wise to exercise some constraint and set some limits in our lives. Studies have shown that having limitations can actually improve the creative process. A little constraint at work may lead to better results.
In 1975, the Jazz pianist, Keith Jarett had to perform at The Köln Concert under the constraint of a smaller, faulty and out-of-tune piano. He had to play differently and improvised around the limitations of the instrument. The recording then went on to become the best-selling piano recording in history.
Life is limited
We may want unlimited access to our content and demand artificial barriers be lifted from services we use but we must accept the one limit we all have in our lives. Time is our most precious resource and the only constraint we can't change.
By giving us close to unlimited storage for our mailbox, we free ourselves from deciding if we should delete an email to save some precious space or leave it for future reference. Being able to access and watch all episodes of House of Cards at anytime frees us from the need to sit in front of the TV at a particular time.
The removal of these limits were supposed to free us from having to with deal them, but instead, many of us are wasting precious time filling our schedule with endless stream of content and making pointless decisions like "should I get those glow-in-the-dark toilet papers or these popcorn-scented pillows?"
Ironically, it used to be quite a paradigm shift to live your life without limits. Now with all these temptations all around us, it is much harder to craft a meaningful life without any. It's time to live within limits to break-free from the constant assault of an always-on, unlimited, on-demand world.
Dare yourself to live within limits, not without them.