Big Babies

Michael Bywater is - or, at least was, at the last count - a Scrivener user, but I’m going to embarrass him anyway. Right now I’m reading “Big Babies Or: Why Can’t We Just Grow Up?”. It is hilarious, and so spot on, in so many ways:

(Note that in context this is not a confessional but rather a shared state of our infantilisation by media and government.) I have to say that it is a relief to hear someone say this. Next year I’ll be half-way to becoming a septuagenarian and yet I still find it difficult defining myself as “a man”. Despite the grey hairs at the temples…

One of those slap-your-forehead-and-say-“Oh yes!”-moments:

People becoming the avatars of computers - a hideous inversion but how true of those whose job consists merely of reading scripts from a computer screen? And what better phrase than “people become the avatars of computers” could describe and hit home this phenomenon?

An early rant (and look away now if you prefer non-atheist software vendors :slight_smile: ) on page 4 about the absurdity of choosing to believe in an invisible creator-person despite the evidence is still one of my favourites.

Anyway. I do like a good rant, and I’m only a quarter of the way through. And I don’t think there is any denying the central hypothesis that modern society is about turning adults into children. I am reminded of my mother. For as long as I can remember, she has bemoaned the ageing process to me, saying, “I don’t feel any different on the inside now than I did when I was 21.” And for as long as I can remember, I have thought how depressing that must be, and hoped that as I get older I feel my age by getting wiser. The signs so far, however, are not good…

Come to think of it, I did e-mail Mr Bywater recently to congratulate him on a good review of this book in the Times before purchasing it myself but never heard back; I wonder if it is a little strange getting literary praise from your software vendor? :slight_smile:

So: recommended. And right now I am wondering if using smileys in this post is a sign of my own infantilisation. Uh-oh.


Well, evolution might be to blame. Some theorists propose that humans evolved from a somewhat chimpanzee-like ancestor by retaining juvenile features into adulthood. Maybe from the child’s point of view, we just thought we would get older, while all the time we were learning to pretend better that we were grown-up. Then the media discovered the secret, exploited it, and here we are.

I like that theory. I always liked how in Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy we were constantly reminded that we were just chimps (humans being referred to as “chimp-descendants”, “apeman” etc.

So in actual fact, we are just big chimp babies. :slight_smile:


Actually…according to evolution we aren’t even chimps. Go far enough back and we were all just microscopic globs of fat (though scientists seem to prefer the term ‘lipid’)…

Yes. We are all different.
Yes. We are all different.
Yes. We are all different.
Yes. We are all different.
Yes. We are all different.
Yes. We are all different.

I’m not…

So I went to Amazon to read reviews of the book. One reviewer mentioned Mr Bywater was interviewed by the BBC so off I went to the site to see if I could find it. No luck.

Could you ask him to post an MP3 of the program here. Alternatively could he provide a useful summary or extract for us potential buyers.

My interest in this is piqued not by the concept of infantilisation and the nanny state but by the total crap knocked out by politicians and the government and its various agencies. They publish this stuff and I cannot say its crap and will lead to this that and the other. I am expected to swallow it and say thankyou.
Unfortunately I can think for myself.
Thats why they bug my phone and open my letters and read my emails…


Yes, the David Marr interview was rather tangential to the subject. What worries me is the propensity for positions to be taken by ‘growing- ups’ using the logical fallacy of arguing from effect to cause. It is all backwards.

The mountains are beautiful, the weather is sublime, therefore there is a god and god is good.

Effect to cause! It is crazy, wishful thinking.

Grown-ups argue from cause to effect.

How can there be a god if I can’t win lotto?

So, it’s all in figuring what comes first, what caused what.

Existentialism lives!

I am a septuagenarian and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I do know I like smilies.


Oh joy! There’s hope for me yet. 8)

Wow! So that really is you in your avatar?

My Lord Lightning,

Sire, I want to be like you when I grow up!!

Your servant


Aaahh! Thanks.


Glad you liked the picture of me as a young man (my avatar)!

My Lord Lighning,
Sire, such awe inspiring modesty.

Your Humble Servant,

Back on topic - A healthy dose of uncommon sense wrapped up and delivered in a hilarious diatribe. Read it, I urge you. In fact, do more than read it, absorb it. Mr Bywater can actually help you reclaim ownership of your life.


At least we agree on something, :wink:

I first opened my copy, at p126, read, " Im Running Away, Please Make Me Some Sandwiches", and collapsed in a heap. Hes so funny.

I`ve got BB sat on top of Lost Worlds (another one of Michael,s; same rapier sharp…), on the window ledge almost at my elbow and I alternate between them two or three times a week, most weeks.

I can only read one paragraph at a time though. I don`t think Id survive anything more. Just checking that I had the words in their right sequence , I had tears on the old cheeks.

Kinda life affirming though, when you realise the Great Guy`s articulating, effortlessly, most of what you believe.

I can highly recommend Lost Worlds. You only need spend a few minutes between the pages of either book, for a boost.

Take care

Thanks for the recc, this sounds like something I must track down.

There was a book I read a while back-- Consumed: How Markets Corrupt Children, Infantilize Adults, and Swallow Citizens Whole by Benjamin R. Barber.

It discussed this phenomenon as being deliberately created and had a lot of thought provoking points to make.

However, as a book, I found it rather dry, and the author came off as a grouchy old man ordering kids off his lawn.

Pity, really, because I enjoyed the ideas. Just not the book.

I’ll deny it, as I don’t think it’s quite right. Modern society and the welfare state (yes, even that half-assed attempt at a welfare state we have in the US) don’t turn adults into children: the system exists to keep children from ever becoming adults. The schools train children to obey, to let “the people in charge” do their thinking for them. The colleges and universities continue this training in obedience, and the media reinforces this training by parading an endless train of “experts” ready to tell you exactly how you’ve fucked up your life, and how to fix it.

It’s not in the government’s interest to have a society full of adults. A society of self-reliant adults would not tolerate a paternalistic government that regiments their lives while bribing them with bread and circuses.

It’s not in business’ interest to have a society of self-reliant adults: self-reliant people are less willing to buy everything they’re told they need to buy in order to “be happy”.

It’s certainly not in the interests of organized religion to suffer the existence of self-reliant adults. Grown-ups accept that someday they will die, and face their mortality with calm acceptance, rather than a desperate desire to be “saved”; they don’t need God, or those who claim to speak for It.

I’m 29, and I’m probably not a true adult yet, despite being married, gainfully employed, and possessed of some grey about the temples. I’d like to think that I’m getting there, though.

Coo-er. This is what you get when you can’t remember your login so you search for your name to see what you posted under…

Well very gratifying I must say. I must also say that I think Big Babies could have been an awful lot better. It’s got some good bits in it, but it seems to me that it doesn’t actually go anywhere. I mean, I state my thesis, rant a bit, game over. There’s no arc to the thing. In fact, I’m going to write to the author and complain, you see if I don’t.

Anyway, I didn’t come here to moan about my own book. I came here to moan about Scrivener, so if you will excuse me…

The one who dies with the most toys wins!

I guess I would question what is the “definition” of “grown up”?

When one is young they strive to be older. As one ages they wish to be younger. I wonder at what age was satisfaction met or are we in an endless cycle of futility?

Easy: a grown up is somebody who commits a crime. Just take a listen to the news sometime:

“An eighteen year-old man was yesterday involved in a stabbing.”

“The eighteen year-old boy was murdered by…”



This man speaks Truth!
Dastardly criminals. But alas where does Vic-k fit in since he is a three legged Pirate Dog?

Criminal or Romantic?

I myself looked up the definition of Pigeon and one caught my eye. Since I am neither a child nor am I grown up (I believe it is never to late to have a happy childhood) maybe this defines me well…

Now Keith get back to your book er I mean coding! er…yeah. :slight_smile: