Pouring cold water on the concept of choice

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Not everyone supports Manchester United, owns an iPhone or has a tribal art tattoo.

That’s the beauty of having a choice. It’s what makes us individuals. I love choice.

What I don’t like is being led to believe I have a choice when in fact I have no choice at all.

Take, for example, the water dispenser in our work. Should you wish to partake in a cup of water (provided there are any plastic cups available), you can choose from either normal water or cold water.

The presence of two taps represents a false choice, for only one of these taps is ever used. To prove it, upon entering the building on Monday I stood at the water cooler for two hours and observed as not a single person used the normal water tap. As a pat on the back for my important research I received a written warning about timekeeping.

The question remains, when does anyone thirst for normal water? Water that is not too cold as to jar one’s tastebuds nor too warm as to cause one’s tongue to blister.

Who thirsts for normal anything? In the vast majority of instances you can safely substitute the word ‘boring’ for the word ‘normal’.

Beside the water dispenser in work are two bins. One is marked ‘general waste’ and the other is not labelled. I can only assume the second bin is not for general waste, rather it is intended for specific waste, though considering the type of waste isn’t specified it comes as no surprise this bin is generally empty.

It’s yet another example of giving the illusion of choice, while realistically pointing users in a single direction.

When it comes to proper choices, picking a football team is one of the biggest in a young man’s life. Rather like getting a tribal tattoo, it’s a choice that is, without costly surgery, irreversable.

I can’t understand football fans who don’t follow any particular team. My Granny Cousins watched cross-channel football religiously but would never put all her eggs in one basket by nominating a favoured team. Every week I pressed her to commit until eventually she succumbed and told me she supported Gary Lineker.

When it comes to choice there is no accounting for taste. For example, some people watch cricket while others listen to Bon Jovi. As the years wear on I’ve come to learn that I should live and let live. In the meantime if Jon Bon Jovi happens to get knocked unconscious by a cricket ball I will lift the ban on Google searching for either of these key words.

In my day, school children faced the same dilemma every lunchtime - choosing who were going to be the cowboys and who were going to be the Indians? Kids nowadays spend their lunchtimes scouring current affairs websites to decide where their sympathies lie in the conflict in Gaza.

When it boils down to it, every choice we make is not our own. We’re bombarded by outside influences, be it the opinions of our friends, the words of the media or the spin of advertisers. One sphere of influence we rarely heed is that of our parents. Mothers and fathers are the antonyms of influence. Few of us admit to listening to the same music as our mums and fewer still go out of their way to dress like our dads.

On an unrelated note, I’m currently seeking a buyer for 16 Pringle shirts and Adele’s back catalogue.

I realise this week’s column is a tad abstract, so next week I’ll try to produce something more ‘normal’.