By Sanah Thakur
As a child I was often told ‘With great power, comes great responsibility’, yet the quote never seemed to spell out the specifications of this great power. Growing up I have come to realise the subjective nature of this power that is today accumulated in the variety of choice each child is served on a platter. It is in this playground that they grapple on to the infinity of childhood potential, rather than move on to the reality of being something — because who really needs to grow up today. This great power, allows you to spin a wheel of actions and be held accountable for none. And so, we have ‘grown up’ to become restless, and impulsive, lacking a desire for responsibility. As a fresh graduate, I stepped onto this sandpit of reality only to wonder, ever so concernedly: where did the adults go?
The adolescent brain consistently rewires itself, until it reaches a stable stage of development at the age of approximately 25. Therefore, until then, we’re navigating the world with an immature limbic system and prefrontal cortex, responsible for self-control and higher cognitive skills such as long-term decision making and logical thinking respectively. With technology increasing mediums of communication, creating a global community of shared adolescent experience — the world is infantilising the youth. This means that the risk taking and immature behaviour we easily excuse under, ‘we’re young’ is now hovering over a large part of an individual’s early thirties. My main concern isn’t that we’re ‘staying younger’ as a generation, but that growing up or taking responsibility doesn’t seem to be a necessity. The Extension of adolescence is impacting brain maturation, with erratic sleep patterns, consumption of toxic substances and the consistent throb of instant gratification ringing in our ears.
I engage with more people on a daily basis today, than I would have ten years ago. I send e-mails to adult companies with adult employees, and get ignored repetitively. As emotions flicker with every tone less text message exchanged, I can hardly recognise the feeling before I’ve upset or triggered someone. And since opinions are the common currency, you’d better start sharing if you expect an increase in their value. It’s easier to drive past mistakes and run away than own up and fix them, because who is really going to chase us anyway? When things don’t go our way, we’ll find another way – we’ll justify it as the only way. What about parts of our life we dislike, or interactions that emphasise our flaws? I could probably edit them out of my personality before you even call them out.
With every commitment we avoid, hiding from accountability, we are diluting the importance of responsibility. And this I can tell you, is no good for healthy brain maturation. To successfully sow the seeds of adulthood, one needs to prepare the prefrontal cortex by regularly challenging it with decisions. Just because we have a sea of choices, it doesn’t mean we throw big nets and catch whatever swims our way. ‘With great power of choices, comes great responsibility’—responsibility to choose what makes life meaningful in the long term. To share our mistakes as proudly as we share our achievements and hold ourselves accountable for the consequences of every action. If you do choose to reinforce the infantilisation of our culture, don’t throw a tantrum when the consequences of that come in the way of what you want. After all, if you decide to be a child, be okay with being treated like one.
* The author can be contacted on Instagram @sincerelysanah
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