Book Review: The Choice Effect

To be honest, I don’t remember purchasing The Choice Effect by Amalia McGibbon, Lara Vogel, and Claire A. Williams, for my Kindle, but I just finished reading it two nights ago.  I wasn’t impressed.  On one hand, I commend the authors for writing a semi-sex-positive book about dating (except they portray men as completely disposable), and some of the interesting problems the Millennial generation faces.  On the other hand I finished the book feeling vaguely insulted by some of the ways they characterize my generation, and I became increasingly annoyed by the constant pop culture references.

Their term for the ladies currently in their 20s, “choisters” is an interesting portmanteau created from the word “choice” and the phrase “the world is your oyster”.  The entire book revolves around their hypothesis that because, as a generation, we are more mobile and more connected to the world, we are paralyzed by the plethora of choices available to us and refuse to commit to anything.

When it comes to jobs and a place to live, the economy and ever changing job market are the main factors in my generation’s inability to “settle down”.  By and large, companies are no longer promoting from within and rewarding loyalty and increase in job responsibility with higher titles or compensation.  I read articles all the time bemoaning how it doesn’t pay to invest in Millennial employees, because they leave the company in a few years anyway.  It’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  It no longer pays off to be a “company (wo)man”.   When you’re looking for a new job every two or three years in order to experience career growth, it becomes difficult to put down roots.

Likewise, with such volatility in the job market, it is difficult to make what is ostensibly a lifetime commitment to a partner unless one or both of you have a mobile career, or an agreement to move if the other person is presented with an amazing opportunity.  The latter can lead to an imbalance in the relationship if one partner is unable to find a job in the new area, or cannot contribute to the household finances as they did previously.

While it is true that my generation is delaying marriage and family life to a much later age than previous generations, I disagree with the authors’ assertion that it is because the women of my generation are constantly looking for someone “better” than the person they are currently dating.  The notion that we are all a bunch of commitment-phobes who just can’t choose a partner, or a job, or a city to live in rings false to my ears.  I’d argue that my generation’s hesitation to commit to a partner, job, or city is born of intelligent caution, and is a legitimate choice, in and of itself.

In the end, it is hard to take a book seriously when the authors are constantly dropping pop culture references to songs, movies, TV shows, and even mobile applications left and right.  I sincerely hope I didn’t pay anything for this book (I can’t find the receipt, I looked), because it wasn’t worth the e-ink it was printed with.

Posted on August 29, 2012, in Book Reviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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