The Death Of Opportunity

(melodramatic titles attract viewers – FACT)

In cleaning my room this week – a process which consists of deciding whether to lob item x into a bin bag for the black non-recycling bin, or lob it into a carrier bag to be dumped into the blue paper-recycling bin – I found a leaflet given to me by a family member, advertising a theatre in Manchester; I live in London, and the leaflet was intended to help me pick a show to see if I had time while up north on work experience (spoiler: I didn’t).

And I was thinking that this is an ‘opportunity’, a chance to do something offered by someone else; they comes out of nowhere, and are largely total surprises to us when we are offered them. However, I feel that these ‘opportunities’ are becoming increasingly infrequent in a society in which everyone has near-equal access to knowledge and information.

For instance, a friend could invite you to see a film you’ve never heard of, and they only know about because their father directed it, adding an element of pleasant surprise to the event, whereas today, anyone can look up any film they’ve not heard about on Rotten Tomatoes, removing this unexpected factor. Hell, most people have heard of all the films there are out there anyway, what with YouTube pre-roll adverts, bus posters, and the age of topics trending on Twitter.

This also applies for jobs and careers, where you don’t get a job in a bank by knowing the manager’s friend’s cousin, and them offering you an internship out of the blue, but you follow a clearly-defined career path, from GCSE Economics, to A-levels, to a degree, and ultimately to that job.

So this increasing focus on the individual when it comes to deciding what to do, rather than waiting for chance to throw stuff at us, can be good or bad, as it allows the interested to pursue their interests, while removing some of the random chance of life. As a result, society is more likely to be polarised, as those who want to do things are likely to do them themselves, and those who want to sit back and let life take its course are likely to be screwed because everyone else is only looking out for themselves.

Personally, I like this more individual focus, but that’s because I’m prepared to work for the things I want, and to research the things I’d like to know more about, but this is a totally selfish reason. I fear that those with a more relaxed attitude towards life, and have less of a problem waiting for opportunities to present themselves rather than create them, will soon be dismissed as lazy or unambitious in a society in which the powerful are increasingly made up of these self-motivated individuals: ‘You didn’t have a defined career plan when you were six that you could follow, you must be a moron!’

But as long as people have varied interests, I suppose opportunities will never ‘die’ as such; they may become less frequent, and will no longer be the way to get things like jobs, but our culture is so varied – humans made both Rugby League and Rugby Union, after all – that random chances will probably always present themselves to us, even in smaller ways.

And I never did go to that theatre.

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