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ACSI Explained
I used to be a grown-up. Autonomous, self-sufficient, free. But no more. The world seems intent on turning me, little by little, back into a baby.

Creeping systemic infantilization, I call it, even though people look at me funny when I do.

Take our late model sedan, for example. Cars used to be tough, workmanlike, uncaring. They functioned most of the time, and went about their business without complaint. They were content to let you do the same. It was an arrangement that I was content with, in spite of the fact that I occasionally made some little mistake like not buckling my seatbelt.

Those days are gone. My new vehicle offers me gentle reminders for practically everything I might do wrong — seatbelt, lights, following too close, keys, engine on, and more. In some cases, it even acts for me. Like I was a baby. My responsibility for everything is being siphoned away…for my own good. Like a baby. And I am learning to depend on this “help”…like a defenseless little baby.

Infantilization! And so it is with the rest of society. Gradually, we have been seeing reminders crop up everywhere. Verizon does it, letting me know that my bill will soon be overdue. So thoughtful of them. But wouldn’t it be better if I missed a payment and learned whatever valuable lesson comes with that mistake?

Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it’s helpful. Yes, it’s a timesaver, a lifesaver, and load off my mind. But pretty soon, I expect that I won’t be able to clothe or feed myself, much less drive a car. I can feel my adulthood — my freedom! — slowly fading away.

Now, I know that we all need reminders once in a while. My life mate issues them on a regular basis, and each time she does I am filled with gratitude. But when we are constantly being prompted, even directed, to do what we should be figuring out on our own, we lose a chance to learn and grow. You know — become a better, more fulfilled human being. Sadly, my life mate does not share my philosophy.

I suppose you might suggest here that my philosophy, in its most extreme form, would contend that anytime we help anyone we are really doing them a disservice. Believe me, it does not. Anti-Creeping Systemic Infantilization (ACSI) does not apply to acts of simple kindness. ACSI is more about the dangers of over-helping. Like giving a man who walks on crutches a third crutch.

Okay, it’s nothing at all like that. But ACSI is a hard worldview to explain. I want to help others (including my life mate) understand it, but that is something they should really learn on their own. They'll get a lot more out of it that way.

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