- Politics and Social Issues
Choice, Consumerism and the Curtains
I walked into a large industrial estate yesterday with a view to purchasing some curtains for our little boy's bedroom. The vast selection of every curtain I could ever imagine filled my view...blackout, ready made, thermal, coloured, patterned, ornate, plain.... how many curtains could I possibly need? Where do people put all these hangings?
Let me put this into context.. this was only one shop of 3 similarly themed ones all in close proximity to each other. The idea being (I presume) that you browse in them all and come to a decision.
Well I have come to my decision and that is that I just don't like all this choice. Far from being an enjoyable experience, it becomes stressful. My husband finds the first curtains that fit the bill, picks them up and walks to the checkout...directly (What a hero!) I, on the other hand am scanning the isles in case their is a 'better' or cheaper alternative. I can't help it. I've been pulled into the jaws of the shop. I can't leave. Even at the checkout, the lady asks if I need curtain hooks, of COURSE I do. Hell if she offered me a tea pot, I'd need that too.
'Choice' is very relevant to todays western culture. There is a lot of it, at least that is what we are led to believe. We're bringing up our children to expect endless alternatives. Would you like orange juice, apple juice or milk? Would you like the blue cup or the red one? Would you like to sit in the front of the car or the back?
The result is a tiny tot weighing up the pros and cons of an outing with daddy to the newsagents or a stroll in the park. He has the deciding vote.
These mini people are making choices where their predecessors simply didn't have the opportunity and the result is, well.....concerning. It is not so unusual to have small children asking teachers to give them their 'options' once they have stepped over the line. There is ALWAYS a choice given to school children so that they can amend their behaviour and quite frankly manipulate their way out of any trouble. The 'language of choice' so hammered into teaching staff and parents alike, that small children effectively become adults. Problem is.. they are not cognitively or emotionally ready to face adulthood...
So where am I going with all of this?
Well aside from the obvious, children not being able to make good judgements and a surge of the 'spoilt brat' it creates a 'grass is always greener' scenario where children and indeed adults are constantly questioning why they are not happy with their (Blue thermal curtains/Pink cupped orange juice drink) They are questioning whether their life would be more enriched by an alternative shade/flavour. Ok so I am being a little silly here. However I really think my point remains.
The excessive choice we have is creating a generation of disgruntled, dissatisfied people that are unhappy with their lot. There are huge expectations of people to display wealth and happiness where perhaps they have neither.
So many people have never owned their own home, yet they dress in designer clothes, drive a sports car and have the latest mobile. These people cannot afford any of it but the expectation of our society is that we should aspire to fill our houses with 'stuff' so as to appear successful and happy.
Of course there are also the slightly wealthier people who buy in abundance and bin the lot within a year, ready to start the cycle again. To cap all of this off, the endless choice these people have had in their upbringing enables them to have tantrums and to sulk over their toys without realising that this is unacceptable adult conduct. The cycle continues...
The curtain shops will always be there along with their huge brothers and sisters. People will always get swept up in consumerism. However if at all possible, I think it would benefit not only individuals, but society as a whole if we managed just to curb our consumerism even just a little bit and buy in moderation, we may become just that little bit more consumed with the important things in life rather than 'decorations'
As to the curtains, to my little son they are none other than 'some curtains'