Race, Class, Gender, Sexuality

Choice pressure

Whether it’s a mate, a name change, clothes to wear, software to use, or food to eat, I’ve read and heard a lot of people refer to choices in life as more or less equal. As Charlotte York proclaims in Sex and the City, “I choose my choice. I choose my choice!”

Do we choose our choices, though? The way people talk about choices, I guess they all live in a world where the choices are three or four doors that all look the same and are all equidistant from the chooser. I rarely see choices that way. The way I see choices, I’m living in a world where one choice has neon lights around it and is right next to me with a moving walkway that has millions of people going into it. All those people, as they pass me on the moving walkway say, “What’s wrong with you? Step on!” The other doors are far away, and some are even hidden unless you get close to them. Some doors are smaller and others larger.

If I choose the door with the neon lights and moving walkway that everyone else is telling me to choose, is that really my choice? Or am I doing it because it’s the easy choice, the popular choice? And if I choose an obscure door I have to seek out, is that really my choice? Or am I doing it because it’s out of the way, and I want to feel different, because I want to resist the pressure to pick the easy and popular choice?

Choices aren’t made in a vacuum. We can try to be individuals. We can try to make informed choices. In the end, we also need to recognize that there are pressures to make certain choices. If you make those choices, really put yourself through some self-examination. Are you making that choice because it’s the right choice, or the easy choice? And if you make a different choice, also ask yourself if you’re making that choice to resist the easy choice or not.

4 replies on “Choice pressure”

This is really nicely put. I think it’s kind of hard to accept that maybe we don’t have as much control as we’d like to think, so maybe that’s why a lot of people maybe don’t want to see this.

Interesting metaphor; I like it. Are you aware that your word choice of “pressure” frames this in a negative light? Other apt descriptions like “influence” or “advice” or “guidance” would have very different connotations.

I personally don’t think it’s negative. After all, should your wife/parent/child/boss/pastor/friend’s thoughts affect on your decisions? Your choices, especially big ones, affect many people. Plus many others genuinely want you to do well.

I must admit that many people are bad advisers. They use their own preferences, rather than yours. A good friend and good adviser can take your values and preferences and help guide you through the right door.

There are some choices you can make without feeling pressure. In those situations, it’s nice. You can solicit feedback, guidance, or advice before making your choice and know that people will respect whatever choice you make.

That’s not what I’m talking about, though. I’m talking about the situations in which society and commercial marketing all tell you to go one way, and you feel that pressure, whether you choose to go along with it or go against it.

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