Culture Is Awash With Adult Babies; Everyone Needs to Grow Up


‘We are a generation of adult babies. You can see it in the widely circulated – and largely untrue – idea that the human brain isn’t developed until the age of 25, which means that anyone younger is still essentially a child. It’s there in the notion that people with ADHD can’t text back their friends because they lack object permanence (a skill that babies develop at eight months old). It’s there in the narrative that, because gay people didn’t experience a normal childhood, they’re living out a second adolescence in their twenties and thirties. It’s there in the hegemony of superhero films and the cross-generational popularity of YA, whose fans insist that grown-up literature is only ever about depressed college professors having affairs.

You can see it in Disney adults; the rise of cuteness as a dominant aesthetic category; the resurgence of stuffed animals; people who identify as Hufflepuffs on their Hinge profile; people throwing tantrums when their Gorillas rider is five minutes late; people lip-syncing, with pouted lips and furrowed brows, to audio tracks of toddlers. Sometimes, it’s less about pretending to be a child and more about harking back to a lost adolescence: narrativising your life like it’s a John Green novel or an episode of Euphoria, bragging about crazzzy exploits like smoking cigarettes on a swing or doing cocaine on a Thursday; hitting 30 and still considering yourself “precocious”….’

— via Dazed

Overall, I see this trend largely as a symptom of our growing culture of narcissism, the prioritization of comfort and escapism over personal growth and responsibility in our society. I have previously written about the price we pay for what I believe is the mistaken notion that we should strive to be happy at all costs. Some of the most poignant victims of that ethos are the psychiatric patients I treat each day, suffering with no skills for tolerating negative affect and the expectation that the goal of either medication or psychotherapeutic treatment should be taking away their pain. In contrast is, depending on whom you choose to attribute it to, the Dalai Lama‘s or Haruki Murakami‘s maxim that “Pain is inevitable, suffering optional.” 

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