What’s Wrong With Our Young Men?

There is something wrong with a lot of young guys today. A lot of young guys don’t seem to have drive, enthusiasm, commitment or courage. And these are the things that older generations prized in men. I have been reading a brilliant book that everyone should read (no that is not hyperbole) it is called The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It by Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan. They say this about guys today:

Consequently, many guys lack purposeful direction and basic social skills. They’re living off, and often with, their parents well into their 20s and even 30s, expanding their childhood into an age once reserved for starting a family and making a career. Many young men who do manage to find a mate feel entitled to do nothing to add substance to that relationship beyond just showing up. New emasculating terms such as “man-child” and “moodle” (man-poodle) have emerged to describe men who haven’t matured emotionally or are otherwise incapable of taking care of themselves. Hollywood has caught on, too, to this awkward bunch of dudes, who appear to be tragically hopeless. Recent films such as Knocked Up, Failure to Launch, the Jackass series and Hall Pass present men as expendable commodities, living only for mindless fun and intricate but never-realized plans to get laid. Their female co-stars, meanwhile, are often attractive, focused and mature, with success-oriented agendas guiding their lives. The sense of being entitled to have things without having to work hard for them — attributed to one’s male nature — runs counter to the Protestant work ethic, as well as to the Vince Lombardi victory creed (“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”) These guys aren’t interested in maintaining long-term romantic relationships, marriage, fatherhood and being the head of their own family. Many have come to prefer the company of men over women, and they live to escape the so-called real world and readily slip into alternative worlds for stimulation. More and more they’re living in other worlds that exclude girls — or any direct social interaction, for that matter. Over the past decade, this pattern has escalated into adulthood where grown men remain like little boys, having difficulty relating to women as equals, friends, partners, intimates or even as cherished wives.

Guys are pushing their adolescence into their retirement but what is the cause of this? The cause is, understandably, porn and technology:

We believe this demise can be traced to the rise of technology enchantment. From the earliest ages, guys are seduced into excessive and mostly isolated viewing and involvement with texting, tweeting, blogging, online chatting, emailing, and watching sports on TV or laptops. Most of all, though, they’re burying themselves in video games and in getting off on all-pervasive online pornography.

 

The authors quote some disturbing statistics about guys and pornography:

One in three boys is now considered a “heavy” porn user, with the average boy watching nearly two hours of porn every week, according to University of Alberta (Canada) researcher Sonya Thompson.15 And that’s the average; just imagine what the outliers are doing! Add to the mix older guys watching adult videos online, at work, at home or in hotels across the country and around the world.

 

As they go on to state that guys have become addicted to games and porn and this is changing their brains and ruining their lives:

This new kind of addictive arousal traps users into an expanded present hedonistic time zone. Past and future are distant and remote, as the present moment expands to dominate everything. And that present is totally dynamic, with images changing constantly. Boys’ brains are being digitally rewired in a totally new way to demand change, novelty, excitement and constant stimulation. And their brains are being catered to by porn on demand and by video games at a flick of the switch or a click of the mouse. That means they are becoming totally out of sync in traditional school classes, which are analog, static and interactively passive. Academics are based on applying past lessons to future problems, on planning, on delaying gratifications, on work coming before play, on long-term goal setting.

The church needs to step in and teach young men what it is to be a man again today. Young men need to be taught that being a man is not about sex, violence and getting drunk.  What is a man? 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 are great verses on this issue:

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

From this verse we see a man stands firm in his faith. He is not swayed by the winds of teaching. He knows and loves his Bible. Act like men can be translated be courageous like a man. So a man has courage, he may be sacred but he does the right thing despite his fear. Strength doesn’t refer to physical strength but it refers to strength of character, a man does what he says he will do. And finally a man loves selflessly and sacrificially.

Let’s teach our young men to be men like this.

You may also like:

The Great Porn Experiment

What is a biblical man?

7 Resources you can use to Fight Pornography

 

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8 thoughts on “What’s Wrong With Our Young Men?

  1. It irks me a little that this study seems to conflate porn and video games, and in doing so misrepresents video games. Especially this quote:

    “And their brains are being catered to by porn on demand and by video games at a flick of the switch or a click of the mouse.”

    I’m not suggesting Peter Pan syndrome isn’t a thing – but this seems to tackle the symptoms, rather than the cause. I’d be much more interested in reading something that looked at why our culture doesn’t produce adults who are keen to take responsibility and initiative, rather than why so many of our adult men “fail to launch” – and perhaps what economic factors also contribute to such a failure, and what sort of cultural changes that brings in turn.

    It seems they’re recognising a problem, attributing a convenient cause, and suggesting that the educational status quo is better positioned to produce positive outcomes, eg this quote:

    “That means they are becoming totally out of sync in traditional school classes, which are analog, static and interactively passive. Academics are based on applying past lessons to future problems, on planning, on delaying gratifications, on work coming before play, on long-term goal setting.”

    The goals might be worthy, but static, analog, and interactively passive classrooms are classrooms that are failing to contextualise and move with technological changes. Education (and preaching for that matter) has usually led, or kept pace with, technological changes and the associated changes that brings in how people live, recreate and learn. We don’t walk around with our teachers any more, or just follow our forefather’s career choices by default.

    I might be an anomaly, but this whole caricature doesn’t really ring true for me or mesh with my experiences.

    I’ve been playing video games since I was four or five. My dad reviewed video games for some prominent Australian publications. I moved out of home when I was 19, had a job, got a uni degree, moved cities, got a proper job, got married, went to Bible College… and I’ve continued to play video games the whole time. Mostly with other people – though sometimes alone. The problem with this sort of study is that it essentially extrapolates from a caricature of video gaming (the World of Warcraft player who lives on his computer in his basement) – even my most hardcore gaming friends – who program games for a living, and host gaming podcasts, and spend far more time gaming than I do, game in community – a mix of virtual and real world.

    I don’t get this paragraph, either:

    “From the earliest ages, guys are seduced into excessive and mostly isolated viewing and involvement with texting, tweeting, blogging, online chatting, emailing, and watching sports on TV or laptops.”

    None of that sounds like “isolated viewing” – it sounds like increasingly social viewing. There are people behind those pixels. I’m reasonably sure that 1 Corinthians 16 applies equally in the virtual world and in the real world. It’s even delivered to Corinth “virtually” – the Biblical epistle is the modern day email. Paul wasn’t present when it was delivered, and yet he’s exhorting people who read his letter to follow his example, as he follows Jesus (1 Cor 11).

    The criticisms of pornography in this thesis would have been much more powerful without the lazy comparison to games linked by gratification, screens, and mouse clicks.

    • Hey Nathan, thanks for interacting. Sorry it has taken me ages to get back to you. I am not sure why you would say that texting , blogging or other things are social. I dpon’;t think they are because social, I think, implies that we are talking face to face. So even though I am replying to you over the internet it is not really a social meeting. The book talks about the fact that young men dont know how to talk face to face anymore and says this is attributed to hours of gaming. I have played computer games in the past too. he is not saying that if you play games for fun sometimes it is an issue it is when you lose yourself in playing video games.

      • I am not sure this is a good definition of social:

        ” I think, implies that we are talking face to face”

        I have problems with it theologically… and I think sociologically. I’d want to describe “social” in terms of the connection that exists between members of a society or community – and I don’t think all communities need to be physical.

        I think “social” has to anticipate, or recall, a face to face meeting – but I don’t think the face to face thing really works for me.

        Are we social with God when we pray? We’re not face to face with him – though we are anticipating a time when we will be.

        Are we social with people in other churches, who we’ve never met, when we pray for them and communicate with them – via phone or internet – while anticipating an eternity with them. I’d want to say yes.

        In this sense all of these activities form part of creating and maintaining networks between real people – networks that will hopefully bear fruit in the real world, and ideally lead to people meeting face to face, but even if they don’t – I’d say such interactions are still “social” – especially if they occur within the framework of, say, Christian community. I’ve never met many bloggers whose blogs I read, but I’ve sent home delivered pizza to some when they’re experiencing tough times… I’d call that “social”…

        My point about video games is that they can be social – I understand they can create a sense of present absence, for people sitting in the same room, but I think they can also create a sense of absent presence for those the person is playing with.

  2. Let me warn you in advance, because I have presented this same research, guys that play video games are going to object and reject this research. They want to believe that video games are harmless. Gamers are riddled with confirmation bias and refuse to accept the fact the that video games create the conditions for arousal addiction. Gamers want to believe that gaming has no biochemical effect on the neurological pathways and will fight you on this point. They are wrong so be ready. . .

  3. Hans, I get what this book is trying to do, but from what you’ve mentioned here, it fails to properly analyze western culture on so many levels. Western society is in relational decline, no two ways about it. The family is besieged at every level. But computers didn’t do it on their own. Work hours, divorce, absent fathers, two world wars, post traumatic stress disorder, financial globalization, feminism, unprecedented change and a host of other factors have all converged on boys… and girls. Young people need the bible, but they also need constant love and positive encouragement.

    I have to say I resonate with Paul Miles. Shaming them isn’t a good start. What they need is real mates who are real men who show them the way and teach them how to be men patiently and lovingly.

    BTW, If you want to get really scared, find out how much time boys spend with men each week. I did some quick maths a few years back and came up with a figure under 12 hours… and that was being generous. Then you begin to understand why they don’t know how to be men.

    • Hey Pete, the book goes into how much time boys spend with men and with their families and says this is a massive issue. You should check out the book it is actually quite good and not as one sided as my blog would make it seem!

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