If your family evenings or Friday nights in are anything like mine, the following description will be familiar to you…
You are sat around the TV set with half a dozen remote controls in your arsenal. You have Freeview, perhaps Sky or BT, then Netflix and/or Amazon Prime Video channels to choose from. The combined library of entertainment at your fingerprints is mind-boggling – and yet, you can’t find a film to watch.
In today’s world, we are saturated by media vying for our attention. Beyond entertainment and popular culture, this predicament extends to all walks of life, from the goods we can buy at the supermarket to the endless supply of potential suitors lining up on dating apps (at least for some of us).
Our generation is in a historically unprecedented and extraordinary position of privilege where we are collectively suffering from opportunity overload. Young people today, in particular, have grown up being told that they can do anything and become anyone.
Teenagers point smartphones and video cameras at themselves in their bedrooms around the world and find an international online audience looking back at them.
That’s influence and power.
Youth are breaking away from multi-generational family trades to become the first in their families to attend university or try new jobs that simply didn’t exist 10 years ago.
That’s progress and innovation.
The upside of this bounty and opportunity is limitless.
Social mobility has never been more achievable for those of disenfranchised or under-privileged backgrounds (although many barriers still remain unyielding).
But the downside, the side-effects of this saturated marketplace, are less talked about.
Opportunity overload causes overwhelm, confusion and anxiety.
With so many directions to take at every turn, individuals can feel lost and exhausted to make even the simplest of decisions – let alone life or career shaping ones.
Say what you will about scarcity, it makes decision-making simpler…
You can only complain about abundance from a position of privilege. Having too many opportunities is a uniquely first-world problem but it’s a problem nonetheless.
My generation has only known a strong job market and flourishing economy. The 2008 crisis is a vague, distant memory that I was too young and too sheltered to properly register.
In late 2018, at 23 years old, I have no idea which direction I want to take my career in, only the confidence – false or otherwise – to believe that I have options. Too many to consider or appreciate.
If a recession hits in the coming years, maybe the luxury of choice will disappear and I’ll take whatever living I can get, but until then, I’m sat flicking through films on Netflix without the faintness idea of what I want to trade for my time.
I can either keep scrolling or I can pick something and stick with it.
That’s all any of us can do when the possibilities are endless.
The greatest tragedy is the person that could have been anything and ended up as nothing. My biggest fear in life is wasted potential. Rather than worry about making the right choice, let us start by making a choice and reorientating from there.
You can always change over 20 minutes in.
If you liked this post, you might like The Cure For Indecisiveness and Attending Anxiety.