There apparently are lots of articles about young men not doing what young men of the past have done; and more importantly, what is wanted of young men today — right now. Here is the latest. It takes a different angle from the last one. Let us take a look. We saw this paragraph before, but it is worth repeating.
“These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they [are] quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, [such as that] they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games.” In other words, the time these young men spend on Xbox and Playstation does not offer them relief from the stress of joblessness and existential inertia. On the contrary, for them it’s part of Living the Dream.
Why, yes it is Living the Dream. Video games are entertaining, fun and satisfying (or at least seemingly). The real world, not so much. Of course, as we all know, the real world has been working extra hard to be that way for the young fellas.
But if Hurst’s research is accurate (and profit margins from the video-game industry suggest that it is), then the issue becomes much bigger than video games themselves. The portrait that emerges of the young American male indicates an isolated, entertainment-absorbed existence, with only the most childlike social ties (such as with parents and “bros”) playing a meaningful role.
They do have social ties to their friends. Perhaps they are childlike, perhaps not. Though it is true that they are not exposed as much to the rough and tumble of working (or university) life; where they are not really wanted. Why go to someplace where you are not wanted for no apparent good reason? Who can argue with this? Incentives matter.
In their on-line community, they are wanted. It is a true community for them. Who would not want to be where they are appreciated?
Young men, significantly more so than young women, are stuck in life. Research released in May from the Pew Center documented a historic demographic shift: American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. This trend is significant, for one simple reason: Twenty- and thirtysomething men who are living at home, working part-time or not at all, are unlikely to be preparing for marriage. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life.
First of all, I am not sure that young women are not stuck in life also. Carousel riding/watching, a leg up at the university while obtaining non-STEM degrees, make-work affirmative action jobs, etc, are what they engage in. This is mostly playing, just like the young men are doing.
As for preparing for marriage, it is clear that these young fellas see this as mostly fruitless. They see men who are working hard to signal provider status getting the short end of the stick, they see their Dad’s and Uncles, they see very few instances of marriage working out for men. Furthermore, in their 20’s they receive little interest from women. Probably many think that this will be a long term condition, so why bother preparing for much of anything related to women?
This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. But in the comfort of their parents’ homes and their gaming systems, young men get to live out their fantasies without the frictions of reality.
Love and sex are not the best incentives to assert adulthood. They have been debased over the last 50 years. Many young men view them as disincentives; good reasons to remain in their gaming world.
As for the frictions of reality; well, they have decidedly increased for young men over the years. Furthermore, most have noticed.
What does that sound like? It sounds like pornography. Could it be that one reason that millions of young American men feel satisfied with their perpetual adolescence is that their sexual appetites are sated by a steady diet of internet porn? No woman they could meet at the coffee shop or on the church camping trip could possibly compete with these perfectly toned, perfectly undemanding models. The mild embarrassment a man might feel at looking real girls in the eye after days of masturbatory absorption in fantasy perfection is avoidable, if he simply doesn’t get out.
Is this any worse with respect to society than women riding the carousel? So we have carousel riding and rampant wanking? Which might the cause, and which one might be the effect?
A connection between enslavement to video games and enslavement to pornography is not far-fetched. As Russell Moore has noted, the former offers “fake war,” while the latter offers “fake love.” Between the Xbox and the X-rating, a young man can oscillate from the primal thrills of conquest to the orgasmic comfort of faux-intimacy. When these two temptations meet in the lonely dark of Mom and Dad’s basement, what’s not to like?
Indeed. What is not to like? Now, what is anybody going to do about it? Would there be enough will to do so?