Over time, it seems like we're gaining more and more control over our lives. While a lot of that can be attributed to political conditions favourable to personal freedom, I think the real driver of control these days is technology. For example, it used to be that you had very little choice about who you interacted with on a daily basis. The people you lived near were your people, and, like them or not, they're who you'll spend time with. But now between cities, private transport, internet shopping and communication technology, most of the time you don't need to interact with anyone you don't choose to.

Partly as a consequence of this, you also have a lot more control over the ideas and information you're exposed to. News and other media is a lot more decentralised and personalised than it used to be, with the consequence that instead of reading a national or regional newspaper and listening to the radio, you tend to read hyper-specialised information from newsletters, websites, podcasts and social media. Sometimes this is done by a specific personalisation system (eg Facebook's News Feed or Reddit's subreddit filtering), but it's also just the de facto consequence of having more and finer-grained choices.

And the last one is that we have more control over what we do. The rising tide of education (and formal education alternatives), social mobility and individual power means that it's much more feasible to aim for not just work, but vocation and passion. Whereas once upon a time you would take the first good job you could get your hands on and spend a career under the wing of one corporate entity, modern workers have more power and flexibility to make work work for them.

So we have ever-increasing control over who we interact with, what information we see, and what we do with our time. Those are all good things! While there are perfectly valid arguments about too much choice being mentally taxing, and our increase in personal power outstripping our society's ability to set social norms around it, I think those factors are not enough to really swing the equation: more control means we get better outcomes.

However, there is one important caveat that I think is underappreciated: that power is a lot of responsibility. I don't mean moral responsibility, though I did write about that earlier. I mean that if you have complete control over your life, then the quality of that life is completely up to you. So if you're not very good at choosing good people to interact with, good information to consume, or good activities to pursue, there's nothing stopping you from ending up in a fairly terrible situation. And, even in a less extreme sense, the more control you have, the more you rely on your own judgement.

I would never suggest giving up the important gains in control we've made, but I would suggest being aware of that significant limitation. If there's something better out there, something so good you'd never think to look for it, complete control guarantees you won't find it. For that reason, I think it can be worth deliberately giving up control in limited ways. Talking to strangers (or letting them talk to you), taking on an activity you would normally never do, and exposing yourself to strange and uncomfortable sources of information are all ways you can do this.

More generally, it's dangerous to put yourself in a position where you are betting on the completeness of your present understanding of the world. It's not so much that you might turn out to be wrong, it's that you'd never know.