We think we’re free to choose but …
- did you know you blink more as you get to your supermarket checkout?
- Have you noticed that the aisles that have things which are mainly for women tend to be wider than the others?? (must look, next time I’m there!!)
- If a consumer researcher looked in your bathroom and kitchen cupboards he would be able to predict, fairly accurately, the car you drive (or don’t drive) and where you spend your holidays???
‘We are never more closely observed in our western society than when we are making choices. A huge and sophisticated consumer research industry exists solely to predict, stimulate and manipulate our life choices, in a world that it treats as one big market place.’
(Hence the irritating pop-up ads, targeting our apparent ‘interests’).
‘Choice is a contemporary obsession. To have ever-increasing choices and the means to indulge them is regarded as a definitive sign of a culture that is socially and economically thriving.’
(So in a recession the first thing many of us notice is that, because we have less money in our pockets, we get less choice).
‘But choice today comes to us in a particular packaging. It is not value-free. The controlling market ideology requires the constant stimulation of choice, without regard to actual need …’
We know we don’t need some of these things. It’s just nice to have them.
‘… All the evidence is that our society finds exercising responsible choice extremely difficult. We are a culture characterised by compulsive and addictive behaviour patterns’ (so Teresa May has to bring in a law to make getting massively drunk more difficult, because people are not choosing responsibly). ‘Life is reactive rather than proactive. The reason that so many seek counselling lies in a sense of personal powerlessness, of having no choice. A key strategy in helping people through stress is to enable them to understand and to manage their own personal choices. Responsible and creative choice-making has become a lost vocation of our times.’
(From Runcorn, ‘Choice, Desire and the Will of God’)