The internet tells us many things, sometimes things we already know. Last week, an article in the Money section on USA Today online confirmed one of those things I’ve thought for many years, which I find a bit comforting. In “Mind blown? Yes there is proof that too much choice overwhelms your brain,” entrepreneur, brain scientist and author Jeff Stibel claims that “the brain actually loathes choice, and science tells us that those who limit their choices may be on to something.”

Stibel summarizes recent market research on choice when buying a product and says, “As you collect more information and start to weigh your options, you grow overwhelmed.” In practical terms, “fewer choices lead to more sales and happier consumers.” I could have told him that — without all the fancy science.

I loathe shopping. I really do. When I go to shop, I know exactly what I want, and I want to get it and go. No fuss. One of the more exasperating experiences I have is finding EXACTLY what I want, so I can get it and go.

Y’all ever think about how many different types of toothpaste are out there? Walmart, for example, has a plethora of toothpaste choices that takes up the better part of an aisle. Even narrowing it down to the brand I buy is little help — they produce at least half-a-dozen different “toothpastes” to meet the preference of seemingly every customer.

Consider Oreos. When I was a kid, there was ONE type of Oreos. Now there are several. There lies the problem. I don’t buy the traditional chocolate Oreos anymore; I like the “Golden Oreos” now. Even that comes in at least two varieties — regular and “double stuf.” Altogether, there may be dozens of different varieties of Oreos, counting the different crème fillings used and the various “limited edition” cookies they make at certain times of years (there usually are Halloween and Christmas limited editions, for example). I wonder sometimes, at what point do Oreos stop being Oreos and become some other cookie entirely?

I’ve pondered what would happen if I went into Walmart or Johnson’s Giant Food or Dollar General — any store, really — and they were out of Oreo Golden Double Stuf cookies. Just slap out. It’s never been an issue so far, but would I go on to the next store? What if they’re out? Am I then off on some quest for Oreo Golden Double Stuf cookies? If that quest failed, do I go with the chocolate Double Stuf or do I go with the regular Golden “single stuf” variety?

What if Nabisco stopped making them? That’s almost too horrible to contemplate.

I’m sure now that it’s choices like these that led to the fall of the Roman Empire. While the Romans contemplated their choice of Oreos, the so-called “barbarian” tribes — those with only one choice of Oreo — just waltzed right in and took over as the Roman legions stood overwhelmed and paralyzed in the cookie aisle of their Walmarts.

I’m being a bit silly, but Stibel’s article deals only with consumer choices. What about the more important choices? Almost everything comes down to some sort of choice. Even if I avoid the existential choices, the choices that actually could lead to some tragic result, everyday life is a series of choices. It’s amazing that our brains can function at all, really.

Take writing, for example. There’s really nothing magical about the craft of writing — it’s a series of ever more complex choices about words and how they should fit together to produce ideas. I don’t obsess over writing at all. I practice every day, writing between 500 and 800 words (sometimes more, sometimes less), so I have a good sense of what choices to make. In fact, the choices are almost “automatic,” for lack of a better word. My choices aren’t always the best, but there’s a comfort zone.

It’s the lack of a comfort zone that makes us uncomfortable with too many choices. My dentist is an expert in the field of tooth care, and she gives me good advice on what type of toothpaste to use, so I don’t really ponder that choice too much. I’m hesitant to ask her opinion about which Oreo to choose — I’m pretty sure her opinion on such a sugary snack will differ substantially from mine, so I keep my own counsel there.

There’s the problem. For a comfort zone with Oreos, I’m in dire need of a “cookie expert,” if there is such a person. The only constructive choice I’ve managed to make with cookies is to limit my consumption — four Oreos per day, maximum.

That may change, though. In Johnson’s the other day, I looked up from the Oreos and saw that Nabisco now makes Newtons with blueberries instead of figs. On an impulse, I bought a package. They are mighty tasty. Now, there’s a whole new set of choices at home — Golden Double Stuf Oreos today or Blueberry Newtons. Hmmm.

David Murdock is an English instructor at Gadsden State Community College. He can be contacted at murdockcolumn@yahoo.com. The opinions reflected are his own.