Our lives are full of choices, from the moment our eyes open in the morning to when they close at night. We make choices every day. Some are considerably easy and we don’t even pay attention to them, while others are at times complicated. Some of the choices we have to make in life are easier than others. One of the relatively easier ones is what clothes to wear every day. Selecting what to wear each day can be a horrific, time-consuming process for males and females alike.
While some people may find this easy enough and they might just grab and put on the first thing to reach their hand, some people take time getting dressed making sure every little detail is in place. Did you know that women spend around one year of their lives deciding what to wear? I myself try on at least two outfits before I leave the house. Like Thomas Beller wrote in his essay “The Problem with T-Shirts”, he chose to wear a very old T-shirt that he had grown accustomed to, which got ruined during a party.
Being very attached to the T-shirt he chose to keep it like it was, ripped, for another year or so until he finally decided to throw it out (54). I think we have all, at one time or another had that one piece of clothing that we just chose to keep instead of throwing out. The problem is we have too many choices. Where at one time cars, telephones, and Oreos all came in one color selection, now we have, well, 45,000 choices. For example, once upon a time there was mayonnaise. You had to choose which brand you liked, but that was it.Now there’s regular, light, fat-free, canola, with lime juice, and with mustard (three kinds of mustard no less). It won’t be long before you can take home a jar of soy decaf shade grown fair trade dolphin-free mayonnaise.
Then all you’ll need to do is decide whether you want a small jar, medium jar, large jar, or popcorn tub size. It makes ketchup sound better all the time. Then there are Oreos. There are now at least 17 types of Oreos, including peanut butter, mint, yellow cookie, fudge covered, double creme and the affirmative action role reversed version that has a white cookie and chocolate creme.Good luck finding a regular old Oreo. All these choices make it difficult not only to decide what you want, but to actually make it home with the right thing. For reasons best known to the marketing department, manufacturers keep the labels the same and print the variant in small, unobtrusive letters using invisible ink. Right, like grocery shopping wasn’t enough fun before.
Sometimes I get home and discover that I accidentally bought the wrong thing by mistake. Restaurants are another place where we’re getting too many choices.Simply put, I don’t want to spend more time reading a menu than it will take me to eat my dinner. It’s a personal rule. I have enough trouble deciding what food ethnicity or style I want to eat, don’t make me go catatonic when the waitperson comes to the table for the fifth time to take my order. Modern life has provided a huge array of products to choose from. Just walk into any large supermarket or drugstore looking for hair-care products and you’ll likely be confronted with more than 360 types of shampoo, conditioner and mousse.
Need a pain killer? There are 80 options.How about toothpaste? You have 40 types to pick from. In addition, we now have to make choices in areas of life in which we used to have little or no option.
We have to decide which telephone service providers and plans, internet service providers and retirement pension plans are the best for us. A question Berry Schwartz rises in his essay “The Tyranny of Choice” is “Why are people increasingly unhappy even as they experience greater material abundance and freedom of choice? ”(836). It seems a simple matter of logic that increased choice improves well-being. But the opposite may be true.
Schwartz explains in his essay that while the gross domestic product, a primary measure of prosperity, more than doubled in the last 30 years, the proportion of the population describing itself as “very happy” declined. More of us than ever are clinically depressed. By some estimates, depression in 2000 was about 10 times as likely as it was in the year 1900.
Suicide rates are also on the rise (836). In addition, because we have all this choice, not only do we expect perfection in all things, but we expect to produce this perfection ourselves. When we (inevitably) fail, the temptation to blame ourselves is almost irresistible.And self-blame is just the kind of explanation that promotes depression when we are faced with disappointment or failure. This is the paradox: Here we are, living at the pinnacle of human possibility, awash in material abundance.
As a society, we have achieved what our ancestors could only dream about. We get what we say we want only to discover that what we want doesn’t really satisfy us. College is one of the most difficult decisions of today.
After we decide whether we actually want to go to college or not, we have to decide what our major will be and what courses to take.A lot of people take a long time to decide whether to take a year off or not, myself included, and once we decide, most students will be undecided in what their major will be. Schwartz’s research shows that we have more choices then ever: logically that should be a good thing, but psychologically, it’s not (836). Schwartz writes “It is a major source of stress, uncertainty, anxiety – even misery” (841). Today, students have to make a lot of choices before they choose what they really want to end up doing, which leads to a lot of students having double and even triple majors (839).
Not only that, but there are also matters of ethics and religion to choose from, even “…romantic intimacy (to marry or not to marry; to have kids or not to have kids; to have kids early or to wait until careers are established)” (839). Looking through the list of essays, I read bits and pieces of each one trying to find some that fit my topic well. I stopped at an essay by Peter Singer which has more of a moral choice to it. Every person has seen a commercial or two about sick children all around the world and we have the power to help them. Personally I have seen plenty. But I have never chosen to do anything about it.I have donated a few dollars to different stores when they raise money for a certain cause, but never more than that. Singer’s message here is that a lot of people have the power and money to help one of these really sick children, but are unwilling to in order for them to live their comfortable material life (852).
Nowadays plastic surgery (where people have a choice on how they want to look) is increasing while the price for it is going down. Camille Paglia writes in her essay that making yourself look better through plastic surgery is considered essential for us to get a better job and get further in life (791).This is most popular with the women, who are expected to look their best. That makes us think if it’s really a choice or if women are pushed towards it. Paglia makes an excellent point when she writes “…women themselves must draw the line against seeking and perpetuating an artificial juvenility that obliterates their own cultural value” (794). After we have decided to get married and have children comes a decision that is torture to most parents: deciding the baby’s name.Authors Steven D.
Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner bring up the many sources we have when it comes to picking out a name for a baby. Some of them have been there forever like the Bible and the various traditional names based on your nationality.
In the last two-three decades, people have been naming their children weirder names than ever such as brand names (Lexus, Timberland) and aspirational names (school names and various high end job names like Lawyer or Senator) (756-757). Thinking ahead to the time when I will have children, I don’t think I would use any of the sources mentioned in Levitt and Dubner’s essay.Personally, I would like my children to have unique but good names.
None of that nonsense of naming your child a color, fruit, store, etc. I find that unoriginal and stupid. One of the newest selections out there today is being able to actually choose your baby’s sex. Michael J.
Sandel reveals in his essay that is it possible to choose the sex of your baby through the new sperm-sorting technology called MicroSort where the “X-bearing sperm, which produce girls, carry more DNA then Y-bearing sperm, which produce boys” can be separated (816).Should this be our choice to make? I believe that babies are a miracle of life and you should be happy to give birth to either gender. There are also some ethical considerations of gender selection which include gender discrimination.
The notion that choice is always good for people-the more choices the better-is not true. In fact, it turns out that having to many choices or decisions can leave us tired, mentally drained and more dissatisfied with our purchases. It also leads us to making poorer choices-sometimes when the choice really matters.Works CitedBeller, Thomas. “The Problem with T-Shirts. ” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings. 6th ed.
Ed. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston: Bedford, 2009. 53-56. Print. Paglia, Camille. “The Pitfall of Plastic Surgery. ” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings.
6th ed. Ed. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston: Bedford, 2009. 791-794 Print. Sandel, J.
Michael. “The Case Against Perfection. ” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings. 6th ed. Ed. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan.
Boston: Bedford, 2009. 811-827 Print. Schwartz, Barry. The Tyranny of Choice. ” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings.
6th ed. Ed. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston: Bedford, 2009. 834-842 Print.
Singer, Peter. “The Singer Solution to World Poverty. ” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings. 6th ed. Ed.
Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston: Bedford, 2009. 849-857 Print. Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J.
Dubner. “Trading Up: Where Do Baby Names Come From? ” The Writer’s Presence: A Pool of Readings. 6th ed. Ed. Donald McQuade and Robert Atwan. Boston: Bedford, 2009.