The friendship recession is hitting young men the hardest
I just finished listening to your 2 part series on Politicolgy and I really enjoyed it even while challenged. As a women in a very male dominated industry who has always been surrounded by men I am at a loss about some of these issues. Why structural supports? Why don't men have the openness or ability to keep or make friends. But making friends can be tough for anyone and I wonder if this is still somewhat stuck in the boys will be boys mentality and not encouraging self reflection and emotional honesty. I found myself a few times listening to your interview and raging over Why again do we have to help men when they have had so much help...but there are a lot of young men who need help. I think I just reflexively reject any premise moving towards women need to help men when we just want them to help themselves. Which isn't helpful...I realize that but good God I am tired of men playing the victim because women won't have sex with them after having bought dinner. There is so much wrapped up in so much of these issues and I am glad you're able to talk about them without minimizing all the issues still with equality and equity
Thank you for leaving comments open to everyone
If you are looking for how to create the institutions for male friendship, there is a good book by Billy Baker on how to get this culture going called "We Need to Hang Out."
It would have been great to have a chapter on trends in male eusociality, including friendship, in Of Boys and Men. It'd also be interesting to look at participation in athletics in recent years. I've heard reports of declining participation in one of the few single-sex spaces mostly left to men.
Part of the institutional and cultural support for increased male eusociality will necessitate the reclamation of all-male spaces. I think this is unavoidable.
I agree that there needs to be institutional support for male friendships. There used to be. Unfortunately, society has targeted those institutions as “old boys’ clubs.” Creating male only spaces today would be a fraught exercise.
Excellent analysis. I think your 'sense' is spot on. We have a serious problem with disconnected and disaffected young men in the US. They seem to be getting a lot of conflicting information and many end up feeling cast to the side. And that, as we know, leads to a lot of suffering for everyone.
DrPaul! We’ve missed you! Thanks for sharing this! Desmond .
The social scaffolding required is reciprocal work. You might be interested in my piece from an anthropological perspective...it compares Tamil and American friendship. The former illuminates what is missing here. https://bit.ly/3TYH7OB
Seems to me that relying on institutions for male friendship is exactly the problem - sports, school, etc. As is relying on marriage to have any kind of social life. Friendship is assumed, taken for granted, not explicitly valued. So when it's gone or eroding, there aren't words to describe it or reconstruct it. The program should be to value friendship explicitly and provide tools for maintaining and supporting friendship - rather than trying to create more adult sports leagues to hope that friends emerge.
A former colleague and friend of mine was getting married to a guy who was a big hockey fan. He had partial season tickets with some buddies. She asked me about it and seemed a bit worried about it as their marriage moves forward. My reply: he needs to hold on to those tickets as long as possible because he needs those friendships. The shoulder to shoulder bonding leads to so much more than you know.
Richard how timely and needed by men. If you believe in zeitgeists under and within larger zeitgeists you collected them here for men!
Rob Henderson just spoke this in the past week : https://open.substack.com/pub/robkhenderson/p/keep-your-head-up-in-some-rooms-and
And I offered this:
Appears many of us concerned for men on this nearly invisible topic…
What do you make of the recent data on US life expectancy? Is there a link to what you see happening with boys and men?
As expected, another great take, sir. It gets to the core of why I started project kathekon (with a friend) couple of years ago - I looked at my dad and other men and realized we are shit at making and maintaining friendships and that comes at a societal cost - but life got in the way of building it into anything more that it was. Hoping this may be the catalyst to make it something.