Why Don’t You Grow Up?

It’s funny, when something we rely heavily on completely breaks – such as the internet, why do we feel so devastated and isolated? Apologies if you were all wondering where my blog posts have gone to over the past couple of weeks. Unfortunately due to the UK’s national telecommunications company I was left without internet access for a full week. Ok, so I know that I spent a large part of my life without the internet, or knowing what it was – but yes, I lost the plot.

Anyway, normal service has been resumed…

During these “blackout days” it got me to thinking about why as adults we hanker after simpler times. Not the: “no-internet, no-mobile (cell)” old days, but the days where it was totally acceptable to watch cartoons, read comic books, play, and generally be childish.  In other words, why do we, as Generation X, refuse to grow up?

I recently had a minor argument with the Mothership about why I was wearing a shirt with a Mickey Mouse pattern. It’s a completely inoffensive shirt, yet she wanted to know why – at past 30, I hadn’t grown up. In her words: wearing a “shirt with Mickey Mouse all over it really wasn’t the done thing at my age”. From the way she was talking, you would think I’m ancient, I’m not. I have grown up – I’ve been through those tempestuous teenage years where admitting that you like Lego, or still watch The Moomins just doesn’t happen. Like porn under your bed, you hide it at all costs. Yet something happened in my 20s, it was suddenly cool to admit that you were still a child at heart. I remember a very vivid, drunken conversation about getting up to watch The Magic Roundabout (at that time it was being televised at 5:55 in the morning) because it was so good and reminded us of being kids – Dougal is still my favourite (and as a point of interest, my mother knitted a Dougal for me when I was 18..).

It’s the old adage: we’re so desperate to grow up as children, that when we do – all we want to do is go back to being children. I think my mother does have a point, but then thinking about our parents’ generation – they grew up. Growing up for them meant sophistication, freedom. There was little point in holding on to their childhood as their future was so bright. You had to be grown up. Generation X, well, perhaps we’re the product of the golden years of children’s programmes and Saturday morning TV (oh my God, the adverts were every kid’s dream and parents’ nightmare), mass marketing of toys and TV tie-ins. It wasn’t just marbles in the playground, oh no, it was Ghostbusters, Thundercats, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lego – the list is endless. And for some reason, we’ve not let go.

Meeting new people the conversation always seems to turn to what cartoons you watched as a child. Don’t ask me why, but you either watched the same thing and our faces light up, talk becomes faster, relaxation spreads as childhood TV nostalgia pours out. Or you didn’t, and the conversation becomes stilted and awkward.

I suppose it is the pressures of modern life, we’re working longer hours, stress levels are through the roof – and at the end of the day, perhaps still playing with Lego or watching cartoons is one way of unwinding – a beautiful simplicity. We have to grow up in so many other ways the older we get. Perhaps it’s a way of keeping us grounded, remembering that we’re human and not some working machine. Also, what made us grow as children can still keep the grey cells ticking over as adults – you only have to look at the recent trend for colouring books aimed at adults (and no, they’re not rude).

Ok, so maybe this is completely academic and what I’m talking about is completely a geek thing. Yes, us geeks do completely “geek” out about things – bringing them to a new level, but more often than you probably think, I meet non-geeks who are completely into the childish things that I thought would be long forgotten by now. In fact I’m always surprised by the passion people have for such things.

It’s not just in the UK that this happens, in France it’s considered intellectual to read comic books – in fact their comic books stores are immense and renowned across the world. And no, they’re not just Manga and adult themed, people are still reading Asterix, Tintin etc. Something I did, and still do. I think as adults, we’re more aware that even though things are aimed at children, they are also contain things for adults. Which I know sounds contradictory, but watch an episode of Danger Mouse or a Carry On film and you’ll see (Danger Mouse is now on Netflix, I think my Facebook went into melt down when that was announced).

How easy is it to blow an hour of mindless watching of Loony Tunes, giggling away at Road Runner, or Bugs Bunny? We don’t have to think – and let’s face it, they’re still funny. Even my parents guilty still laugh at them. There’s no harm in them (ok, there’s violence in them, but hey, it’s cartoon violence). And that’s what sums up us not growing up – it’s peaceful, it doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s companionable, we can share laughing, something that’s severely lacking in this day and age of angst. We can forget ourselves for a while. Plus it’s good for mental health (I’m talking about colouring in here).

This is why I don’t want to grow up, I want a simpler life. Life is complicated and we have to be adults, but I want to enjoy the fun things in life. And yes, I probably have more money to blow on crap than my parents did.

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