infantilism

Why Young Lives are Losing Meaning and Purpose II: The Big Three and 11 Factors

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny | unsplash.com


“Community connectedness is not just about warm fuzzy tales of civic triumph. In measurable and well-documented ways, social capital makes an enormous difference in our lives…Social capital makes us smarter, healthier, safer, richer, and better able to govern a just and stable democracy.”

~ Robert D. Putnam

Reading time: 20-25 mins

In the last post I looked at the decrease in meaning and purpose parallel to the increase in loneliness and isolation for today’s millennial and Z generations.  Sociologists, economists and psychologists generally all agree that the key to developing and holding on to meaning, purpose and well-being is sufficient social interaction with a core group of friends and family that define one’s support. This is not the same as an extended family that usually arises from enforced socio-economic factors, but one that naturally evolves based around shared vision of support and nourishment because it is both practical and sustainable, offering real world benefits.

John F. Helliwell, a prominent expert in the economics of happiness believes the quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives at the deepest levels. And the quality of those relationships is reflected in how well we have activated our response-ability and activities that offer a form of service to the community – whatever form that might be. This is what creates and deepens ties with others: constructive actions alongside key initiatory ideas. Helliwell draws his work from very large data sets called the World Values Survey which has accrued answers from people in over 150 countries about life satisfaction along with other socio-economic information. When Helliwell crunched the data he and other researchers found that there were six reliable and consistent factors which accounted for well-being:

  1. Social support
  2. generosity
  3. trust
  4. freedom
  5. income per capita
  6. healthy life expectancy [1]

Four from the list are connected with social interaction within a community. The other factors are relational and occur as a response to, or as a natural property of social support.  So a stratum of support covering all aspects of human aspiration is a really big deal, the lack of which will play a large part in the development of our social ills.

The Big Three

It seems to me, the development of meaning and purpose is rooted in three foundational products of social interaction which, if healthy, underpin a successful society, the constituents of which all operate symbiotically and grow parallel to each other. Thus, the creation of an individual emerges and is informed by:

  1. Parents
  2. Family
  3. Community

Obvious perhaps, but in crisis nonetheless. These three make up the strata in the soil of society/culture which is dependent on the level of access to community (should it even exist) a solid connection to nature and the quality of the environment upon which all three rest. [2]  Similarly, the healthy functioning of the three will have within them poor psycho-spiritual “nutrients”, or a rich, fertile ground that is self-sustaining and therefore community-sustaining. The presence of Helliwell’s six factors will be informed by the quality of the Big Three.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and The Loss of Free Speech VI: The Jekyll & Hyde of Social Media (1)

By M.K. Styllinski

“Social media spark a revelation that we, the people, have a voice, and through the democratization of content and ideas we can once again unite around common passions, inspire movements, and ignite change.”

― Brian Solis, Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web

***

“Ignorance meets egoism, meets bad taste meets mob rule.”

Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur


The above quotations from writers Brian Solis and Andrew Keen are equally valid. Social media has already offered enormous benefits to connect, share and liberate humanity. It has revolutionised business as a marketing tool and allowed us an instantaneous global reach. Yet, technology – as everything else – always presents a choice between a Jekyll or Hyde application. Which perception and allotted values gain dominance will logically characterise how it develops. The internet and social media is still very much driven by the same pathology of Mr. Hyde that has been bludgeoning ordinary humanity into submission since the rise of the oil industry to the emergence of big data as the new oil. Consequently, Hyde is subsuming Jekyll at a faster rate with its moral character disappearing fast.

Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple surpass the national GDP of many countries and have more overt and covert control over our lives than the State – if indeed there is much difference. Monopolisation is too weak a word to describe how these companies seek to dominate our lives through the kind of advertising, marketing and data capitalisation that is literally predicting our every move. We are becoming the new algorithms in a vast simulation of global consumption and predictive analysis. This is inseparable from the National Security State and its SMART surveillance infrastructure. The new frontiers of social media are redefining communication fully enmeshed in the propaganda of eco-SMART cities of the future and the visions of the technocrats.

The 1960’s saw a genuine revolutionary spirit of inquiry and an expansion of awareness which was comprehensively hijacked by the Establishment. Now, we have the same commercialisation, consolidation, centralisation and control (the 4C’s) appearing in the 2000’s to divert and re-direct the enormous creativity present in humanity in partnership with this technology. To do so, the Establishment and its agencies must ensure that generations of young adults are suitably disconnected from perennial values and re-connected – even addicted – to technology as an end in itself; to be made to believe that their lives and their eco-SMART future is inevitable. Social media and its communication and consumer platforms are part of this agenda, about which most of us are wholly unaware.

“But I couldn’t do without my smart phone…”

And that’s how it works. Tweak society just enough so that such tools become indispensable because infrastructure, economics and commerce is built around it.  Once again, technology is not the problem, it is those with the money and mindset that determine its trajectory. The reasons why must be  understood in order to have the choice to resist such impositions. Our freedom of mind depends on it.

Before we get into the murky world that is Facebook, this somewhat lengthy post will start with the new human appendage granting entry into social media – and just about everything else – the smart phone.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and the Loss of Free Speech V: Infantilism in America and Beyond

By M.K. Styllinski

Let me tell you about Preschool Mastermind, a daycare for adults in Brooklyn, N.Y. It is not, as I had thought, an April Fool’s joke or even a fetish den but an actual thing. Tall, hairy, wrinkled Americans — I’m assuming they have jobs because you can’t get student loans for kindergarten — pay a grand to recreate their happiest times, spending their days as four-year-olds: fingerpainting, show-and-telling, playing musical chairs, napping with a blankie and a Fig Newton.

— Heather Mallick, ‘The growing childishness of American adults’


Columnist Heather Mallick quoted above comments on mass infantilism and political disengagement which can only lead to the erosion of our civil liberties. She highlights a recent interview of whistleblower Edward Snowden by John Oliver of The Intercept who took a camera to Times Square and asked people who “Edward Snowden” was. Not one person knew. However, when asked if it was okay for the NSA to store photos of their genitals  they were vehemently indignant. As Mallick observes: “This is how you get toddlers upset; you mention swimsuit areas.”Hugely important issues that strike at the very heart of our freedoms barely register, unless it’s to do with personal shame.

The freedom to exhibit one’s tackle and the shame of it being viewed (with probable hilarity) by State minions certainly throws up a tangled mess of mixed Freudian messages….

If you think the world is going insane then you can be sure that much of this is due to an inability to process deep change and the horror of having to confront one’s own psychology in the face of uncertainties and shocks. The net result of cultural narcissism means an arrested emotional development which has led to a widespread absence of maturity and responsibility. Nonetheless, you don’t have to be a pathological narcissist to find yourself grappling with such things. Since we live in such a culture, it is probable that all of us have had to confront narcissistic traits and various degrees of trauma in order to truly move forward with our lives. As those who have finally tackled such an ambitious objective can attest – it is not a pleasant experience, which is why those exhibiting symptoms of infantilism find it doubly difficult to claw their way back to adulthood without some appropriate form of therapy. For older individuals who have spent a life time sucking on the dummy of victimhood and entitlement this may be a tall order indeed, since it has become their personality with little room for change.

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of an adult is “a fully developed and mature: grown-up”. What does it mean to be grown up? Robert A. Hall’s article in the American Thinker gives a suitable description of what an ideal adult might be, taking into account that none of us can live up to this ideal all or even some of the time. The key is to strive to do so, both for yourself and your children since they will follow your example and define the next generation. He lists several descriptors which define a normal adult including: resilience; patience; disciplined; openness; consideration; supporting themselves and their family; altruistic in day to day life and most importantly, they do not take on a victim status but cultivate a sense of responsibility. In a word: true adults have integrity; they have a healthy ego that is kept in check by humility knowing that it’s not all about them and they are aware of their weaknesses but strive to overcome them. As discussed previously, many parents and the cultural cross-currents under which they were immersed in the 60s and 70s were exposed to a range of detrimental social changes which ultimately did no favours for them or their children.

Marketing Infantilism

Our body-centric focus is certainly over-developed alongside an elevated egotism. This infantilism is presiding over the male-female removal of body hair to the normalisation of paedophilia in law and academia. We are seeing generations of men and women who are personifying the psycho-spiritual chaos that has been wrought over the last several decades through emotional impairment, missing certain stages of neurological development through experiences in childhood and beyond. Factor in social engineering, postmodernist inculcation and a legion of other psychic pressures, the concept of adulthood has been twisted out of shape to induce a total reliance on the State for all one’s provisions. The government as provider of social welfare has fed into an assumed right to be taken care of, further eroding the potential of community and the lost creative power of people to nurture, support and nourish each other financially and spiritually.

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The Hissy Fit Generation and the Loss of Free Speech IV: The Narcissism Factor (2)

“…the oversensitivity of individuals today, including political correctness and microaggressions, all stem from this idea that people operating under the notion of the pristine self view you as evil because you are showing them something other than love.”

— Howard Schwartz, professor emeritus of Oakland University,


Continuing from the previous post which looked at how narcissism defines our present culture, and how it may feature in the younger generations of today. We now turn to the main sources manifesting normalised cultural and/or personality narcissism and its perpetuation.

Here are six key areas:

Parenting

We have to differentiate between cultural narcissism and the kind of abuse that comes from neglectful parents or what is called the narcissistic family. In the latter, this is a form of emotional abuse or covert narcissism sourced from one or other of the parents’ needs and desires taking precedent over the child’s. From an emotionally deficient family life the child’s sense of self is warped leading to intense shame since the expectation of a nurturing environment is absent. Psychologist Joseph Burgo describes this trauma and arrested emotional development as a result of “disappointed expectations”. When the genetic inheritance that offers a “blueprint of normality” is disrupted in the child, he knows at a deep level, that his  fundamental development has gone awry and he feels insecure and unsafe. Burgo explains: “instead of instilling a sense of beauty, an abusive or traumatic environment leaves the infant with a sense of internal defect and ugliness.” [1]

This sense of disgust and shame at the self has huge implications for the processing of feelings and social functioning. However, such covert narcissism is likely not the primary cause of the cultural narcissism we are now witnessing. There is very little empirical data to support it, whereas more modern studies show clear evidence that inflated feedback is the primary cause. In other words, the conditioning of overpraising and over-protection, where the child or infant is told over and over again that s/he is special and unique.

Telling a child that s/he is super smart and intrinsically special has been taught for several generations. Far from providing a healthy self-confidence this focus has encouraged a prince and princess syndrome; a generation of entitled, spoiled children with little defence against the objective realities of this world. Such well-intentioned coddling often results in a role reversal where the child becomes precociously “adult” and the parent reverts to child-like infantilism due to the dominance of the child’s personality – a wholly abnormal state of affairs. Far from feeling a deep-seated shame, the child genuinely believes that s/he is special and superior since it comes from a learned behaviour of entitlement – wired into the brain.

Although authoritarian parenting is most certainly not the answer, the pendulum has now swung toward the opposite extreme where indulgence misinterprets nurturing. Discipline and structure is an essential part of a child’s navigation and learning, but such an “old-fashioned” view is now shunned in favour of letting the child do and have exactly what s/he wants; where the child is constantly love-bombed with no boundaries or limits. And when the child or young adult eventually faces the real world he comes face to face with the fact that his love-cocoon, this pristine self has programmed an essential weakness in the face of life’s vicissitudes. Far from creating self-reliance and resilience this parenting creates the exact opposite, namely, a generation of “snowflakes” where all aspects of living are seen as a form of bullying and act of offence.  The capitulation of university campuses when confronted by these collective hissy fits only makes matters much worse.

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