WHAT IS Choice?

Joanna is an incredibly gifted Nottingham born freelance writer and a part-time English Literature student at the Open University. When not at the office, Joanna is either crafting beautifully written pieces or taking to the nearest dancefloor with a cocktail in hand.

In yet another carefully crafted take on our theme, Joanna reflects how we are literally 'spoilt for choice' in modern society. With the world now at our fingertips thanks to internet and trade, are our true desires drowned out by the overwhelming choices presented to us?

Read all about it below


If you were to have a quick nosey into most aspects of life, you would find that the level of choice on offer is more prevalent these days than ever before.

Take television shows for example. TV first came to be in the 1920’s and by the 1970’s it had been introduced into most households in the UK. Between its inception in the 20th century up until approximately fifteen years ago the number of available channels jumped from 1 to 500 in this country alone. Then came the streaming revolution with the birth of Netflix in 2007 and all those which have followed since including Amazon Prime, Now TV and the latest additions to our monthly subscription bill; Apple+ and Disney+. Whatever we want to watch whether it be drama, documentary, sport, cartoons or reality TV, it is all available at the touch of a button. Various buttons in fact as most of us now own a small box to house all of the TV controls required.

Food is another one. Yes, the many and varied types of food we eat in 2020 have always been available somewhere in the world (turns out quinoa has in fact been around for thousands of years and was not invented in 2014) but in the UK it wasn’t that long ago where you were served meat and two veg 7 days a week and you either liked it or lumped it. Lumps pertaining to the gravy, especially. Now, you go to order a takeaway of a Friday night and with the onset of every cuisine and its cousin known to man available within a 5-mile radius, you can spend half of your evening swiping through Deliveroo before you’ve actually consumed anything.

Whilst we’re on the topic of swiping, even the choices regarding a suitable mate have become pretty infinite. Gone are the days where you met someone at work or in your local pub, now it seems perfectly acceptable to disappear off to Italy for a first date with someone you met on the internet and will more than likely be moved in with two months later. You might even adopt a cross-breed dog such as a cavapoo, cockapoo or labradoodle (which I’m fairly sure is one in the same animal). You could search for a property together on the endless portal that is Rightmove, which you could then decorate using images from your various boards on Pinterest. Some of these will be entitled ‘Minimalist Casual’, ‘Scandi Boho’ or ‘French Country Farmhouse/English Cottage Chic’. You can then waft around your new shabby chic duplex in a throwaway bargain outfit from ASOS/BooHoo/New Look/Topshop/Topman/Topcat/Tophat which you will no doubt have replaced with a new throwaway outfit in the space of a week. When that’s all done, you can sit down to three hours of reading the Just Eat menu and having come to the conclusion you fancy Vegan Thai Fusion you can spend a further three hours deciding which eight-series long show you fancy binging on Sky Atlantic/Sky Arts/Sky One.

The myriad choice we are fortunate enough to be faced with is a delightful problem to have. Many people from certain parts of the world and from certain socio-economic backgrounds have no choice whatsoever. So, who are we to complain when we have so much freedom to choose, not just what we want for dinner but also what career paths we want to take, where we want to live and how many children we want to have?

When you look at the speed at which we live our lives and the incessant need to obtain the next thing including everything from fashion to property, we must surely have to stop and think; do we really need to have it all?

On the surface of it, we relish the ability to choose from an endless list of options but, deep down, I think a great many of us perhaps wish there were less choices in the world as, that way, we could live a slightly simpler life.

I remember feeling so overwhelmed as a teenager at the options in front of me for potential career paths. I was very fortunate to go to a good comprehensive school where we were subliminally told, every day, that you could achieve anything you wanted to if you applied yourself and you worked hard. The trouble with the millennial generation in particular is that we perhaps didn’t listen to the last part of that message as clearly as we should have done.

This is a broad generalisation and perhaps does not rightly represent all millennials, but I’d put money on it representing a fair chunk of us, and I include myself in this. We have been fed the idea from a young age by our teachers and sometimes our parents too that we can attend any university we like and have any dazzling career we want and in turn we can have ANYTHING we want which usually means we can HAVE IT ALL.

The explosion of social media has not helped this state of mind with an increasing number of YouTube and Instagram stars making it look perfectly possible and probable that you can carve a career out of merely taking photos and videos of yourself. Indeed, this is actually a career path for some nowadays but as with everyone wanting to be a famous model/actor/singer ten years ago, it is a dream that only a handful of people ever obtain.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a dream or having several dreams for that matter. I believe that dreaming is intrinsically linked to hope and without hope, really, what is the point of it all? But there has to come a point where we accept our limitations and indeed the limitations of our bank balances and stop searching for a quick fix to life and a fast-tracked route to the top. The level of choice we have provided for ourselves has a canny way of clouding our judgment and covering what can be a largely straightforward existence with too much glitter and fog.

I’m certainly not saying that we ought to live as we did 200 years ago with men going to work and women looking after the home and children being seen and not heard. The advancement of our society can only ever be a positive thing with more opportunity on a more equal footing for all (although we still clearly have much further to go in this area) but perhaps instead of overwhelming ourselves with so many seemingly viable options we should focus on the few things that actually make us happy.

By all means, we should have hopes and dreams but maybe we should try to keep our feet on the ground in the process. I have a sneaking suspicion that we would actually feel far more contented in doing so. It’s our choice.