On paper, modern British society has never had it better. We all have the vote, we have (more or less) equal opportunities, we have freedom of movement, speech, action, choice, everything.
Socially, women are becoming more and more prominent within businesses, class is beginning to count less and less in most circles and, thanks to the process of globalisation, we have access to different cultures, attitudes and resources. Materially, we have every gadget under the sun. Indeed, iPads, iPhones, Androids and Blackberries are all at our disposal and offer us the latest in media updates, games, social media and so on. Looking back even to 1990, the progression in British society is evident and, yet, we as a generation seemed to have regressed.
Politically speaking, voter turnout continues to decrease, student apathy towards politics, the government and current affairs has seemingly increased and even politicians seem uninterested choosing to leave Westminster in favour of the jungles of Australia as has most recently been done by one Conservative MP.
But it's not just politics. Society as a whole seems to be increasingly disengaged and dissatisfied. Self-help books are now seemingly published monthly, diagnosis of depression, anxiety and similar disorders are on the up, indeed the World Health Organisation's World Mental Health Survey Initiative found that in high income countries one in six were likely to experience depression, and more and more individuals appear to lack any direction or drive.
One possible reason is opportunity overload; Society has never had so many choices yet it is this breadth of choice that leaves us cold. Women are offered the opportunity to return to work once having children and yet it is this choice that leaves many so undecided - Which decision is the right decision? Similarly, with so much opportunity out there many struggle to choose and end up floundering as a result. More and more students leave university with no clue as to what they want to achieve in life and student unemployment is depressingly high. Furthermore, between April and June this year, the Office for National Statistics recorded a whooping 3.68 million living in workless households.
Searching for the one job, decision, action or material object that will make us 'happy' is made harder with so much on offer. Society has become so accustomed to having multiple options that today's generation is constantly striving for the newest 'thing' to make us happy. It's no coincidence that one of the world's greatest recessions since the 1930's has hit today's generation; the constant striving for more inevitably leads to over-zealous borrowing, lending and spending and look where that has left us.
Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle once argued that in order to achieve the scared goal of happiness, man must learn to accept balance. That is to say, it is only when we balance virtues and vices that are we truly content. Having too much of a good thing, then, is often not the answer. Written in the 1980's, Pink Floyd's hit 'Comfortably Numb' perfectly sums up our generation. With so much potential we should be striving ahead, actively participating and evolving yet having too much of a good thing has left us feeling alienated, unsatisfied, indecisive and numb.
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