Bombarded by petty rules, bossy advice and celebrity tittle-tattle, we have forgotton how to be adults. It's time we grew up, says Michael Bywater
I imagine myself to be a grown-up, as, presumably, do you. You think that because you negotiated puberty and developed secondary sexual characteristics, and got qualifications and opened a bank account and subjected yourself to the scrutiny of anti-terrorism laws and anti-money-laundering laws and learned to drive and got a job and perhaps a spouse and maybe children, and quite possibly even pay your taxes, you are a grown-up.
It's time to stop behaving like children and face up to responsibilities
Sometimes, things strike you as a bit odd. It strikes you, for example, as out of kilter that between getting off the plane and reaching the outside world at London Heathrow there were, at last count, 93 notices telling you off for things you hadn't done or which it hadn't even occurred to you to do.
The plain fact is that you are being treated like a baby. You, I, all of us are on the receiving end of a sustained campaign to infantilise us: our tastes, our responses, our behaviour, our private thoughts, our decisions, our buying habits, our philosophies, our political sensibilities.
We are told what to think. We are talked down to. We are distracted with colour and movement, patronised, spoon-fed, our responses pre-empted and our autonomy eroded with a fine, rich, heavily funded contempt.
Here is a random sample of what is implicit in the assumptions that are made about all of us: We are unable to control our appetites;
We cannot postpone gratification;
We have little sense of self, and what we do have is deformed;
We have no articulable inner life;
We are pre- or sub-literate;
We are solipsistic;
We do not have the ability to exercise responsible autonomy;
We require constant surveillance and constant admonition;
We are potentially, if not actually, violent;
We have no social sensibilities beyond the tribal;
We have no discrimination.
Do we still want to sign up to this? Do we want to be Big Babies?
My grandfather was born in 1888 and he didn't have a lifestyle. He didn't need one: he had a life.
He had a hat and a car and a wife and two sons and a housekeeper and a maid and a nanny for the children, and the housekeeper had a dog and the dog had a canker and lived in a kennel.
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