With the daily advances in technology, modern man has a number of issues to face today that weren’t issues in the past. Let’s talk about some these issues that have arrived at our doorsteps.More often than not, I hear many friends and male clients talk about how they feel as if they are under attack by the news and social media. They express the confusion they’re experiencing about the roles they feel obligated to play out.
Your friends and family have expectations for you as a modern man, yet the nightly sitcoms and media are painting a very different picture of the stereotypical man than the one you grew up seeing.
Maybe you grew up watching and idealizing guys like Joe Montana, Bruce Willis, Michael Jordan, or Pat Tillman? Do these stereotypical versions of men still hold their weight in today’s society, or are they an antiquated version of what men used to be?
I want to shine a light on some of the specific dilemmas that we men are staring down the barrel of. Some of you may be facing criticism over the amount of time you spend playing video games or how you choose to go about meeting romantic partners.
If you’re a father, you might be wondering how you’re going to raise your boys in this “brave new world.” These are just a small fraction of the many issues that modern man — young and old alike — are facing in today’s chaotic world. I want to unpack the mentioned topics in a little more detail and explore the idea of balance in an ever-changing landscape.
3 Issues Facing Modern Man
1. Video Games
You step into a new couple’s living room and notice the lights are down, the TV is on, but there is no sound. There is just a perfectly oval bump protruding from the center of the couch, outlined by shadowed headphones. There he is, the master of his domain, the man of the house, the man with streaming blue lights cascading around his head . . . a man far from his home.
Have you ever met this person, or does he sound like someone who looks at you in the mirror? In today’s culture, a “gamer” can now make an honest living playing video games, become part of an online and/or in person community, express parts of themselves no one has seen, and escape from their reality.
The question is, “What is all this screen time doing for me?” For the small percentage of YouTube personalities and professional gamers, it’s paying for a big house and a sports car. But what about the rest of the gamers? The ones with 8-5 jobs, the ones who are married, or the ones with kids? What does all that screen time really mean?
I hate to break it to you, but if you fit the box of one of the above-mentioned guys, then you are losing out. The leading child developmental experts agree that for every minute a child plays on his tablet or phone is one less minute that they could developing in exponentially more ways playing in the real world.
Inferentially, that should be pretty informative about the adult lives we live. Imagine 50 years into the future and a man is dying in a hospital room and sharing his last moments with friends and family. Will he be reminiscing about World of Warcraft or FIFA19? As far fetched as that may sound, that may be someone’s reality.Video games offer an unreal escape or fully visualized world that is impossible to get outside the screen. You can create fully functional civilizations, you can be Kevin Durant shooting the game winner, or you can create the powerful and visualized version of yourself that is hiding inside you. Whatever the case may be, you have unlimited options to satisfy all your curiosity and internal desires through a game.
So, gamers, I get it. Why would you ever want to give up such an amazing and gratifying experience? Don’t. Instead, take a look around you. Are you happy with the amount of time you spend doing face-to-face things with your wife, kids, friends, and family? What about them? Are they happy with the amount of time they get to see your face and not the back of your head?
You just might be able to have your cake and eat it too, but it will only happen if you take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and give an honest evaluation of yourself. Your dad and uncles had Atari. They never had to think about this kind of problem, because they never got to enjoy the never-ending rabbit hole of state-of-the-art games. It is you, young man of America, who is met with this crossroad.
The first step is to take a moment and reflect on the amount of time you give to gaming and ask the ones around you how they feel about the amount of time you game. As with everything in life, communication is the golden ticket to understanding and with a little bit of civil discourse, listening, and consideration, a balance can be found.
2. Online Dating Apps
When it comes to online dating apps and platforms, men are being forced to meet their values, loneliness, lust, and need for human connection at the moral crossroads. Before I begin, I want to be clear that there are legitimate dating sites out there with the intention of bringing people together who are searching for that perfect person. We won’t be discussing these sites.
I want to shine a light on swiping right. The days of mustering up the courage to approach the girl at the bar or act out some embarrassing pick up line are almost behind us, and for Generation Z they have never existed.Through savvy technology and a basic understanding of how humans work, we have commodified sex and dating. Why would I bother going out with friends and take the risk of rejection or humiliation, when I can sit in the comfort of my own home and have exponentially better odds at finding a potential romantic partner?Furthermore, for men looking for sex, why would they go through the same process when they just want a hookup?
For the majority of folks, they prefer emailing over mailing a letter, flying over driving, and delivery over a home-cooked meal. Does this make them bad people? It certainly does not, and as social paradigms change and evolve, we too adapt to our circumstances with or without a conscious effort. When we change the process of how we expedite tasks, network with people, or relegate duties, we also fundamentally change the way in which we receive and appreciate the outcomes.
This is a fact of life, and the wheel will keep spinning and changing as time goes by — but some things do not change. The need for human connection is all around us. It is the technology and court of public opinion that has and will continue to forever change.
The deep, intrinsic urge to be connected, feel heard, be heard, and ultimately share love is what makes us human. So what are men to do if the use of dating apps are socially sanctioned and the sheer efficiency of them is unmatched?
It’s up to each and everyone of you to take a look in the mirror and decide. There is rarely anything in this world that constitutes as black and white or yes or no. Life is a balancing act, so find the balance that sets you toward a good today and tomorrow.
3. Raising Children
With new terms and trends echoing around every day, you might feel as if you can’t keep up. What are all these new terms and expectations for me and my kids?
You may never be a master of new social terminology and understand its context in an individual or global way. But as a father, you have a duty to your sons and daughters. Regardless of time and space, you are the person they will be looking at for guidance and counsel. You have the privilege and ability to fundamentally shape their core values.
Dads, listen up: All the good stuff you do is better than you could imagine, and the bad stuff you say and do is duly impactful. Heavy lies the crown of fatherhood and heavy are the expectations of our children who are always carefully watching to how we react, communicate, and reflect on life.
When Atticus Finch sat his daughter on his knee, he spoke about compromise. He didn’t speak about the teacher, her new rules, the fact that Scout could already read, or that the teacher was infringing on Scout’s free time.
He spoke about an idea, one that could benefit her for the rest of life and also give Scout the freedom to have her own outlook. It is a beautiful picture of a father’s wisdom to see that the current circumstances and societal morals did not outweigh the importance to instill an ageless value that transcends both yesterday and today.
You probably don’t have all the answers your kids are searching for, but you do have the ability to see the world through the eyes of an adult and share your calm with them instead of joining in their chaos. We all need to channel our inner Atticus and take moments to reflect on the bigger picture; and don’t forget that you can still guide and love them completely without completely understanding.
Christian Counseling for Men’s Issues
If you’d like help walking through any of the issues mentioned above or any other concerns you may be facing, feel free to contact me or one of the other counselors listed in the counselor directory on this site. We’d be happy to assist you.
“Father and Daughter”, Courtesy of Katie Emslie, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Video Gaming”, Courtesy of Ion Sipilov, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Enjoying the View”, Courtesy of Luke Pamer, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Lost Phone”, Courtesy of Pratik Gupta, Unsplash.com, CC0 License