I usually find Radio 4's Thinking Allowed
pleasantly thought-provoking, but a good chunk of the most recent episode was mostly just provoking. It was devoted to the premise that men just aren't growing up any more. Three principal pieces of evidence were invoked for this thesis:
1. Men are living with their parents longer than they used to.
2. Men are getting married later in life than they used to.
3. It's now considered entirely socially acceptable for men to play video games.
1. We have a persistent media stereotype of guys who continue to live at home because the free laundry and meal service facilitates their carefree video-game playing lifestyle. These people may exist, but I've not met many. On the other hand, I've known a number of people who continued to live with their parents after the age of 18, and they pretty much fell into two categories: People who were continuing their education, and/or people who were working relatively low-paid entry level jobs and who found that living with their parents let them minimize their debt or build up some savings. Sounds pretty grown up to me. A couple of them did have pretty sweet video game collections, though.
2. Apart from the fact that getting married later tends to follow from living with your parents longer, I was rather disappointed that neither of the sociologists interviewed seemed to realize that average age at first marriage varied quite a lot over the course of history, usually for economic reasons. There were periods during the Middle Ages when people often didn't marry until their late twenties, and it wasn't because they were playing Grand Theft Destrier.
3. I could say a lot of things about this, starting with the proposal that people who pontificate about video games ought to be required to have played at least two of them, one of which is not part of the Grand Theft Auto franchise. What I think it really boils down to is: assuming we accept the premise that grown-ups ought to be allowed leisure activities at all (and one of the sociologists interviewed comes dangerously close to denying that premise), what makes one form of play more grown up than another?
Actually, that's what really boggles me about the "Thinking Allowed" episode. Everyone involved seems to be working from a shared definition of "grown-up" that no one ever actually bothers to articulate. I think that if I had to define grown up, I'd probably define it as, "Capable of independently fulfilling a reasonable number of one's obligations to one's family and society." Which I think you can still do while being single, living in your mom's basement, and owning a PlayStation.