The term ‘arrested development’ comes to mind when pondering the all too often ludicrous behavior of modern adults. It is used to describe people who are stuck in a childlike level of psychological development, unable to grow beyond the behaviors, attitudes and dependencies that mark the pre-adulthood stage of life. Something is holding them back, or something is preventing them from moving forward.
The esteemed author and scholar of mythology, Joseph Campbell, reminds us that in cultures from around the world, the journey from adolescence to adulthood is a big deal, historically marked with ceremony and rites of passage. In this, a young person must confront their greatest fears, overcome them, then integrate themselves into the world as a newly established co-creator, abandoning the roles of dependent and victim.
The boys are brought up to be in fear of the masks that the men wear in their rituals. These are the gods. These are the personification of the power and the structure of society. The boy, when he gets to be more than his mother can handle, the men come in with their masks, and they grab the kid, and he thinks he’s been taken by the Gods.
The mask represents the power that is shaping the society and that has shaped our world, and now you are a representative of that power. – Joseph Campbell
But there is nothing to speak of in contemporary life that serves this purpose, and it is quite evident when observing the behavior of many modern adults that people just don’t seem to have grown up beyond adolescence. What passes for adult behavior these days is all to often comical, embarrassing, even frightening. Like a theatre of the absurd, bubbling just below the surface in America is a collective temper tantrum. It could be generational, but one must account for the effect that each generation has on the development of the next to come.
Avoidance of responsibility has become en vogue, and there is now an actual thing called ‘adulting.’ Essentially it is a cultural meme where grown people complain about having to deal with the day-to-day responsibilities of life after childhood.
And so this jokey way of describing one’s engagement in adult behaviors—whether that is doing your own taxes, buying your first lawn mower, staying in on a Friday, being someone’s boss or getting super pumped about home appliances—can help those millennials acknowledge and/or make fun of and/or come to grips with that transition (or how late they are to it).
This is, after all, a transition their friends may not be going through yet or one that might seem to herald that certain end to their fading youth. To say you are “adulting” is to, on some level, create distance between you and what are implied to be actual adults who are adulting 100% of the time and therefore have little reason to acknowledge it. Or if they do, they might instead use phrases like “going about my normal day.” [Source]
Basic life skills such as changing a tire, boiling an egg, or cooking a meal, are being forgotten, somehow lost in a consumer’s paradise of instant gratification among infinite options. Adulting celebrates the idea that handling life’s basic responsibilities is praiseworthy, which is a tremendous lowering of standards, a dumbing down of our potential.
Incredibly, this is so real there’s already a counter-movement. Have a look…
The systematic dumbing down of the American student is well documented by whistleblowers and insiders of the education system, and now more than ever, we see the results of training children for tests and conformity, as opposed to training them for life and individuation. Because of this, a greater crisis is looming in the hidden parts of the psyche, some kind of emotional fallout, where people are encouraged to beat the isolation of modern existence by indulging in foolishness and making examples of themselves.
We seem to have lost our identity. Children and old people are penned up and locked away from the business of the world to a degree without precedent – nobody talks to them anymore and without children and old people mixing in daily life a community has no future and no past, only a continuous present. In fact, the name “community” hardly applies to the way we interact with each other.
We live in networks, not communities, and everyone I know is lonely because of that. In some strange way school is a major actor in this tragedy just as it is a major actor in the widening guilt among social classes. Using school as a sorting mechanism we appear to be on the way to creating a caste system, complete with untouchables who wander through subway trains begging and sleep on the streets. – John Taylor Gatto
It is no secret that political control of many millions of people is much easier when the quality of the individual is reduced. The reason for this being the desire to produce dependents and workers for the corporate state. People who acquiesce to anything and are too thoughtless or afraid to resist systemic tyranny. Conformity in helplessness and dependency seems to be the aim.
Beyond developing a general lack of life skills, growing up means developing a proper attitude and relationship towards life and oneself. It includes a reckoning with fear, and an understanding of one’s role as a creator in the world in which they live. This type of personal evolution is only possible when we encourage youth to move beyond childhood, and as Joseph Campbell pointed out, we evolve once we take on the journey of life.
Independence is impossible without personal responsibility, and without knowledge we are powerless to influence our lives. Has growing up really become the struggle of our times?
Read more articles by Sigmund Fraud.
Sigmund Fraud is a survivor of modern psychiatry and a dedicated mental activist. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com where he indulges in the possibility of a massive shift towards a more psychologically aware future for humankind.
This article (Adulting and the Dumbing Down of the American Grown Up) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sigmund Fraud and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.