It is impossible to negate just how much life has changed within the last century; we have seen how in a small period of time, nations have disappeared and super powers have been born. Within this century however, something else has transpired. Something which despite its enormous effect has been ignored; that is the infantilization of our society. Childhood has begun to disappear and along with adulthood, leaving society in a forced state of adolescence.
In his extensive study on childhood, Neil Postman expresses the slow but progressive eradication of childhood. All thanks to the uncontrollable and irregulated use of technology, social media; the invasive and continuous presence of technology in everyone’s life.
Childhood was a time when children were not considered nor treated as adults and were left under the care of their parents or the elderly. Their caregivers used to put various layers of protection for what type of programming was made available to the child. Children were not considered adults until they had learned to discern, to think outside the box, and were capable of being self sufficient economically, spiritually and mentally. Childhood was not universal when understood from a social context; just like adulthood differed between social classes; but there were clear lines between childhood and adulthood. Today the child is not isolated from the extremes of the world nor protected by his elders. The media does not require one to be able to read, write or think critically; this is how all filters and all innocence have begun to fade.
Culture and real education are going through the same thing. They have begun to fade because they have lost their proper compasses which made them easier to understand. Real education is now reserved for a few, while the average citizen is given an education which practically amounts to nothing. Real education and real cultural expression have been taken away or have been ridiculed so they may lose its value. The identity of the individual is being slowly eradicated by the degradation of self values and critical thinking. Meanwhile real education, culture and real self expression have been overtaken by ignorance, the massive and the ambiguous. More and more people don’t bother to think; they don’t search for the root of things, rather they like to be spoon fed what is portrayed by the media.
Culture and Real Education have lost their place in our society. Identity and real values; not indoctrination or fake diplomacy; have lost their place as well. The loss of an all encompassing education which taught people critical thinking and which raised their own level of spirituality through introspection and philosophy has contributed to the loss of identity. The extinction of the critical stages within self development have left only the biological stages, which are also accelerating.
Sexual maturity now reaches a younger age, so children who are in development;unable to use critical thinking; are exposed to a culture of consumption while at the same time being exposed to all kinds of violent and oversexualized content in television and music. To make matters worst, we now have schools exposing children to “sex talk” at a much younger age. What used to be something parents could decide if they want it their children to participate in or not, has now become the norm. More schools these days simply give “the talk”. I have no problem with “the sex talk”; I believe sexuality should be addressed like a natural thing since early on. However, I have sat down through one of these “talks” and was left completely shocked as to what was being “taught” to kids. It was no longer “sexual education”, it was “sexual awakening”.
With the invention of the Internet and its easy access, every attempt to censor or regulate its content becomes a resounding failure. In this way the vulgar (I am not talking about sensuality which should also be reserved for a mature mind) the oversexualized, the violent and the absurd are normalized in the popular mentality. The results are children who develop diseases and psychological disorders which were once exclusive to adults.
Children who grow up with such a lack of critical thinking and over exposure to the above, will be unable to grow to become an authority or be fit to raise a family. This is a natural result when we choose to car blankly end of childhood. Believe it or not linked to it is the ending of mature adulthood. A well rounded adult is one who has lived through the natural stages; take a stage out and you are now crippling the identity of the person, their thinking pattern, their ability to be introspective and their ability to truly feel.
Today’s youth “stage” is something that has been extended indefinitely; such stage has become more a lifestyle defined by a habit of consumption. We have a cultural industry where there seems to be a level of permanent immature adolescence. Where people come to believe that adult behavior consists of oversexualization or vulgarity. Everything is allowed except mature rational thinking, healthy sexuality, beautiful sensuality, and moderation; all of these are ignorantly confused with lack of freedom. Things are becoming like this because our current economic level or modern “dog eat dog” capitalism needs a high level of consumption. Adolescents and young adults offer a great opportunity for the giant corporations who focus their marketing on these age groups. In comparison research shows that the ability to convince rational adults to buy things they don’t need is quite limited. Marketing and entertainment are not the only ones responsible for the cause of infantilization; they are driven by inertia and profits.
An all encompassing education is no longer something to be cultivated or developed as more and more people let TV and google do the work for them, without bothering to double check the sources in order to find out what lies behind the story; in other words finding the origins. Presently appearance and packaging prevail over content; everything is ephemeral and nothing is stable because nothing matters as much…For example; the importance of a humanitarian crisis now competes with the birth of an artist’s firstborn. In this total uncertainty, the vulgar or the immature are idolize.
The immature, the ignorant, the egotist, the fantastic, dominates most of the media. If something requires research, critical thinking, self development and is not fast, immediate and satisfying, people tend to flee from it and label those things as negative or unnecessary. Social guidelines have disappeared; since the 1980s, people have stopped feeling part of a society and have become part of a consumer sector. All these added up destroys much of the consciousness necessary to reach maturity. All these locks people into an infinite and unrealistic present, where the past has been distorted and the future is shown as an uncertainty where there is no need to for critical thinkers. It would seem Aldous Huxley was right to speak of a future where the lack of identity, historical emptiness, philosophical emptiness and cultural emptiness have overturned the world to worship ignorance and false pleasure.
When the identity is diluted, with it are diluted its strength and capability. The ability to create or develop diverse ideals becomes the ability to deny them. In the face of an infantilization, naturally the need for a father figure arises, a guide, someone to defend. Such a void is often hoped to be filled by those in power; the State. However, presently more often than not we see a State ready to punish or censor opinions, words and ideas. The State is not evil but it can fail at its job when it chooses to protect the corporations that want to keep people ignorant, rather than to stand up for its people.
It is clear individuals have lost even the basic ability to communicate or to entertain themselves adequately. We see a rise in anxiety within the young population unlike any before. Why is that?… anxiety is a natural thing to experience when the mind finds itself conflicted. These are young people, they are testing their limits, they are curious and have an immense potential, but all of that is being stripped away through the over use of technology, oversexualization and the lack of proper education. More and more I witness young people as well as adults afraid to even hold a proper conversation on the phone because they are so used to texting. More and more we see a decline on children and adolescents spending time outside and reading vs checking their social media status every few minutes; lost to a world which is not real and which is created to destroy their potential and to stop the search for their identity. More and more our children are not being taught how to think but what to think; hence becoming compliant servants even in the face of adversity. Their ability to feel and relate is being crippled and we as the adults need to take a stand to defend our young from falling victim to a world which is so divided between extremes; indoctrination or vulgarity.
Technology isn’t bad when its properly used and regulated. Business is never bad, neither are profits when handle ethically. Recreation isn’t bad when its balanced with proper education. Wanting to preserve the magic of youth isn’t bad when is paired with the wisdom that every age stage brings with it. This life requires balanced and what we give is what we will get. If you over shelter your children you crippled them; is no less abuse as when parents simply hand technology to their kids without setting limitations in its every day use or implementing guidelines on how its is to be used. Balance is what is needed and that has to start with us; the adults. More and more parents are so focused only on providing a wealthier life that the actual parental job has been handed down to strangers, to teachers, to peers. No matter what new gadget you give your child, or what new “toy” you buy for yourself, nothing will ever satisfy the void inside until the bonds are repaired and limits implemented….. until one has learned to paired the outside growth with inside growth in a manner that is coherent, hence indoctrination doesn’t work.
The phenomenon of global infantilization is present from the lower classes to the upper classes. A narcissistic society that forgets the past and flees from the future, will bring giant changes but also the degradation of identity, the eradication or a well rounded education and therefore human dignity. The solution lies in respecting each stage of growth and maturing. To mature is to learn to face the facts, to take responsibility, to defend those who need it without fear of not having the acceptance of others who would rather remain blind. Maturity demands the acceptance for the need of balance between mind, spirit, body, and our external world.
“Freedom is useless if it only leads and serves destructive self satisfaction”