Manning Up

While skimming my Facebook feed I saw this article entitled “A Call to Arms for Decent Men.”

At first I assumed it was one of the many articles posted by a Christian friend. It’s been a fairly popular sentiment among some in the Christian community that males in our culture have trouble maturing into men –  a lot more trouble than girls do becoming women.

The usual take by Christian commentators asserts that many men do not grow up after high school and college. They stagnate in boyhood. They aren’t driven toward marriage, a career, or ministry. In a word, they are aimless.

I pretty much agree with that sentiment. Our youth-idolizing culture has the tendency to promote behaviors and mentalities which are counterproductive to maturity. Unfortunately, I am a victim, collaborator, and perpetrator of this trend to some degree.

To my surprise, the article in question was actually not from a friend, but rather a show on gaming culture and design philosophy that I’d liked on Facebook. Huh. That’s kind of the last place I expected to see something like that. This article is a secular take on the problem of eternal boyhood which intrigued me so I read it.

I wouldn’t call it a good article, but it is pretty interesting if only because it’s (for me) from an unexpected source. It’s centered on bad behavior the author has witnessed in online gaming.

Communication in online gaming and particularly the Xbox Live service has a reputation for filthy and immature users. The stereotype is that these services are filled with thirteen year old boys whose favorite insult is “gay” and don’t tolerate losing, girl gamers, or anything that doesn’t fit their shallow, limited view of masculinity. And they say horrible things about your mom a lot, apparently.

This is a problem with more than just kids on Xbox Live

I don’t know how accurate that is. I tend to play single player or PC games online and the culture is quite different there so I’ll take this guy’s word for it.

While I’m glad to see this is being addressed in some manner, I do have concerns with how it is addressed in the article. He kind of undermines his own point in a couple of ways.

For one, he asserts that men have it better than women. As a rule, he asserts, men have more political and social power than women have had and currently have. I’m sure he’s right in many ways, but in making this point he calls the occupations of teaching and nursing – professions where women outnumber men – “dirty and underpaid.” I donno. Maybe he’s right about that too, but that could easily be construed as a insult toward people of those professions. I know a lot of nurses and nursing students and max respect to them. That’s a hard major!

More disturbing than that, however, is the author’s forceful tone. He stops just short of inciting violence and slander against people who he accuses of violence and slander. Fighting fire with fire doesn’t seem right or smart particularly when many of the perpetrators probably aren’t bad kids. They just lack good examples.

There’s lots of interesting starting points in this article for additional discussions: topics like online anonymity, dealing with bullies, and, of course, male maturity. Those all deserve their own posts or series of posts at some point in the future. For the moment this is some fuel for thought.


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