Dateline: PLAYGROUND 307, Year 2051—The eight hundred remaining adults in the United States are increasingly asking how the Age of Reason become the Age of Babies.
In the United States, which has led the world in this decline, the early signs ranged from the surge of comic book movies, to the proliferation of butt pictures on social media, to the pampering of kids by overprotective Generation X parents, to the retreat to safe spaces on liberal campuses, to the thought-pollution emanating from Christian fundamentalist churches, to the opioid epidemic, to the anti-intellectualism of blue collar America, to the election of the first Clown Presidents, George W. Bush and Donald Trump.
The 2006 film Idiocracy was only partly correct, according to the elite corps of American adults, since that film focused on the decline of American intelligence and this is only one aspect of infantilization. In addition to being naturally dumb, babies are self-absorbed, irritable, fickle, and cute as a button. The same is true of infantilized adults.
The remnants of American intellectuals blame what they call the wave of mass infantilization partly on Americans’ overreliance on machines, especially on television, the internet and communications devices, which started in the 1980s in the case of television. But other countries also had access to advanced technologies and didn’t collectively revert to a childish mindset. So the rise of machines was only a necessary condition.
The key to American mental regression was its early culture of individualism, which high-technology as well as corporate media saturation exacerbated. The early modern Europeans who conquered North America were hardy and self-reliant. In the 1960s, capitalists exploited that ethos of defiant independence, by spreading the myth in their advertising campaigns, that because Americans are each so great, they deserve the best and so they should consume a smorgasbord of manufactured products. Pioneers thus turned into consumers who depended on transnational corporations for their materialistic standard of living.
As more and more Americans were infantilized, their elected government became dysfunctional, the country’s infrastructure crumbled, its quality of education deteriorated, its skilled workforce disappeared, and so big businesses moved all their manufacturing facilities offshore. There was also an astonishing brain drain as millions of educated liberals fled to Canada or Europe. The leftover Americans no longer had steady jobs, so they couldn’t repay their credit card companies. Thus Americans suddenly found themselves unable to consume as spoiled, overgrown babies.
2047 was the year that startled the world, when Americans threw a collective temper tantrum and whined and cried for four days straight. The earsplitting cries could reportedly be heard from the northern- and southern-most tips of Canada and Mexico, respectively.
That was also the year when via the United Nations, China officially stepped in and adopted America as its national child. But because few adults want to be around children for long periods, China had to care for America from afar. So the Chinese trained eight hundred American overgrown babies to be an elite class of nannies and baby-sitters.
These overseers would ensure that the Playgrounds set up by the Chinese were functioning properly. Each Playground is an enormous kindergarten, the size of a major city but geared towards mollycoddling a large class of the remaining two hundred million American men and women who think and behave at a fourth-grade level.
At Playground 307, which used to be known as Jacksonville, Florida, Americans are fed pain-killers at water fountains so they don’t have to endure even a split second of discomfort. Women’s butt pictures and comic book movies are posted or streamed at billboards at every street corner. Instead of the older fairytales which adult Americans used to read their children at bedtime, robots recite fundamentalist nonsense or conspiracy theories to daydreaming American pseudo-adults.
China is currently debating the feasibility of raising Americans to a mentally-adult status, and whether twenty-first century Americans are even capable of growing up.