It’s undeniable. Men are in trouble, and it’s not getting any better.
We dominate the suicide stats, accounting for more than 7/10 suicides in the US.
We’re 3x more likely to use drugs than women, and overdose twice as often (1).
Fewer men are going to college every year, and it’s declining at a stunning rate (2) (3).
And speaking of declining, our testosterone levels are 50% lower than men the same age in the 1950’s (4).
We’re weaker, softer, and literally half the men our grandfathers were.
What the hell is going on?
Now, this is clearly a big, complex issue. Too big for me to solve, so if you have thoughts, give me your thoughts. Let’s work together on this.
With that said, here are some of my thoughts.
It's Been Too Good For Too Long
We made it.
Since the dawn of our existence, mankind has worked to get to where we are now. We have no known predators, we don’t face any existential threats, and the only scary thing we face is the bullshit we watch on the news.
In fact, we have it so good, all we have to do is go to work, come home, drink a few beers, and lay in bed thinking about starting the cycle all over again tomorrow.
It’s dull. It lacks meaning. But it’s easy. And that’s what we want.
Or, it’s what we think we want. The truth is, we’re prosperous to the point of boredom.
We have no enemies, no mission, and no dragons to slay.
Sure, we have goals. But they’re frail.
I mean, a promotion at work would be nice. You’d finally be able to put a TV in the bedroom at the end of the hall. And that’ll make you feel good for, oh, 20 minutes.
The truth is, we’re bored, without purpose, and we’re chasing frail accomplishments.
Stop Saying ‘Toxic Masculinity’
Take this phrase and throw it in the trash forever.
Let’s stop teaching boys that any part of them is inherently toxic. Let’s stop demonizing an energy that’s so good, so productive, and so necessary.
Look, I understand the goal of the term. We want men to be more than just angry alpha’s who objectify women. We want them to be capable of expressing themselves through the full range of their emotional palette.
Guess what? We already are. I cried, like, 3 times while reading The Shack, and I’m a 6’3, 230 lbs male with a HITMAN tattoo on my chest.
The idea that men lack kindness, goodness, or sophistication is as ridiculous as the term ‘Toxic Masculinity’ itself.
And even if there are areas men could improve (vulnerability comes to mind, which may also contribute to all that plagues men today), labeling any aspect of the male energy as toxic doesn’t help foster this. Instead, it causes boys to run from who they are.
By the way, I Googled ‘Toxic Femininity,’ and the definition didn’t exist. As it shouldn’t, because it’s absurd.
We’re Overfed and UNDER-TRAINED
I remember looking at a picture of my grandfather when he was young. He was leaning against his car looking cool, calm, and manly. His hair was slicked back and his sleeves were rolled up to show off his ridiculously muscular arms.
The guy didn’t workout a day in his life, but he swung a sledge hammer all day long. And this was typical for his time.
Men worked physically hard, and they didn’t have access to mountains of sugar and calories like we do now.
Today, in stark contrast, many of us fry under fluorescent lights, hunched over a keyboard, eating fat-filled sugar, and stressing about deadlines.
We have tight hips, bad backs, big bellies, and weak muscles. We can’t sleep, our mind never stops racing, we’re perpetually tired, and our body is in a constant state of stress.
We’re so far removed from our natural, healthy state, it’s no wonder we feel depressed and unhealthy.
I mean, we’re descendants of the great hunter that is man. The running, jumping, throwing, tool-toting man. We’re built to be lean, strong, muscular, and athletic.
We run on high octane fuel, and require hard, physical work to keep us in prime condition.
But we aren’t getting much of either. This is a no-brainer.
Sebastian Junger wrote my favorite book of 2017, and it’s called ‘Tribe.’
In it, he breaks down his own thoughts on why we deal with so many mental health struggles, including PTSD, depression, and suicide.
In a nutshell, he believes we’re a tribal species, but in today’s society, we don’t have a healthy way to apply it.
Throughout history, we lived in tribes of 50-60 people, and in difficult conditions. Everything we did was for the good of our tribe, and we relied on each other to overcome the many challenges life threw at us.
As much as we don’t want to go back to these conditions, this is where we thrive.
Today, we use our wealth to buy space, isolating ourselves from one another. We buy bigger houses, put up higher fences and fortify our yards with trees. We sit in our house, on our phone, generally feeling alone.
Instead of working together as a tribe, we compete with each other. Who has the best car, or the coolest job title?
We tell ourselves that ‘grown men don’t have friends,’ and we believe that’s the way it should be. We seek solutions, but not support. We’re lone wolves, trying so hard to be independent, but dying a slow death as a species because of it.
We Feel Hopeless
Maybe it’s because we failed to meet the expectations our younger self created years ago. Or maybe it’s because we met them, and realized it didn’t make us happy.
Maybe we’re not on the path we want to be on, and we don’t believe in our ability to change and improve. We think we belong in the scrap bin. Tear us down for parts, because we serve no other use.
It could also be that no matter how hard we try, we’ll never do as well as so-and-so. Or maybe we’re measuring our success in dollars instead of impact.
To be frank, I don’t know why so many men feel this way.
But I’m certain we could make a significant impact by providing some mentoring, encouragement, and community. Someone to show us what steps to take, and which steps to avoid. A support system which we both benefit from and contribute to. Accountability to the group, and the groups accountability to us.
Something like a tribe.
Men are broken. Or, more accurately, we’re breaking.
And this is a big, complex issue- one that won’t be solved without a collective effort.
So, I’ll leave you with two notes:
1. What are your thoughts on this? Problems, solutions, experiences? I want to hear it all.
2. If you feel like I described you in any of these paragraphs, and you think it may help to share with someone, I’m all ears, I will not judge, and I’m happy to help in any way I can. Even if that’s just lending you my ears. Shoot me a message.