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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
Going to university is a time many people associate with coming of age. Indeed it is; people begin to live independently – cook for themselves, socialise and contend with people they otherwise would not have, take after themselves, study by themselves etc. Even though this can be a maturing process, the actuality of university has undergone an infantilisation of sorts.
Jonathan Haidt is an American social psychologist and Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He has conducted research into the changing atmosphere of not only universities, but culture in general. In his studies he has found a discrepancy in the way universities are run from past and of present. Universities used to be institutions that upheld and championed the notion of contentious views, the idea that to go to university was not to consolidate opinion but challenge it. Recently, though, Haidt has found that more and more universities (primarily in America, but the effect appears to be trickling into other Western institutions) exert a greater degree of homogeny. This manifests itself in issues such as deplatforming a speaker (or, as the University of West England showed with Jacob Ress-Mogg’s talk, causing a ruckus so as to have the talk effectively null and void). This kind of negation of unsavoury opinion is, according to Haidt, a contributing factor to the infantilisation of universities.
But it’s part of a growing problem. Excessively paranoid parenting after a spike in crime in the 1980s has led to enforced protection to the point where it has even become the law. Merely leaving your child alone in the car whilst you go shopping can have you arrested for neglect. Like a child’s immune system, lack of independent life experience only weakens their ability to withstand contention when they’re older. This transition has led to what Haidt terms as victim culture. The 19th and 20th century saw the emergence of dignity culture, where a stiff upper lip was championed. Now, however, with the insistent mollycoddling, we have seen credence towards the victim. Everyone is a victim: blacks, whites, Asians, women, men, the disabled, the young, the old, conservatives, liberals. Kudos is given to those who are the most severe of victims, and it has had its consequences. Of course, some of these may be positive. Rethinking the stiff upper lip for men is the only plausible reaction the dire suicide statistics. But in general it’s forcing the infantilisation of our culture.
What the hell do we actually need trigger warnings for? Are we this inept? What even is a microagression? It’s time we stopped with the nonsense, but it’s a culture we all contribute to.
Image Credits: The Wire