Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Pep-Talk and Male Bonding

Gentlemen! Dudes! Young men between the ages of 16 and 25, whatever you call yourselves, come hither and listen! There's no boobs in this post but it's important, so you might want to stick around.

Now this entry starts with an anecdote so hang in there, I'll get to my point once I've illustrated it. Then you can go back to surfing.

Recently a friend of mine came to me over IM and mentioned he wasn't in a very good state, but he didn't really feel like talking about it. So I asked if there was a way we could tackle the issue indirectly but he came out and told me anyways. Honouring the implied secrecy of the private IM chat and our close friendship I won't say his name or issue exactly but he mentioned he'd actually had some suicidal thoughts. (This isn't going to be some preachy teen-suicide blog either so don't worry, I'm just elabourating!)

We chatted it out and I got him out of his rut and he turned in for the night feeling considerably better, and for that I am thankful.

But here's the thing.

Young do I put this? It's going to come off as sounding weirdly sexist but....young men aren't empowered enough! ...There I said it!

You hear a lot about womens' empowerment and how young women have to take control of their lives and be strong individuals and think for themselves and all this wonderful stuff. But you never hear that for young men, and it's weird because a lot of the most concerning issues for teens and young adults statistically affect more males! Suicide, death, injury, violence and drop-out stats are all male-dominated.

That's NOT a good thing, in case you weren't paying attention, gentlemen. I'm trying to help you out here!

Young men in our Western society are in no way encouraged to go out into the world and claim it as their own in the same way that young women are. It's....really weird....I can't place the blame on the feminist movements because I really don't think suffrage and equal wages have somehow emasculated the entire male youth population of the 21st century.

It's just a zeitgeist thing. A weird attitude of our era that makes it not just allowable but IDEAL for young men to be brainless hedonistic slackers. Young women get called some pretty foul names for exhibiting these behaviours. But guys? Nah, it's cool...apparently

So here's my proposal. Guys, you still with me? Hang on to your pants because this is going to come as a shocker...

I want you (yes you, young sir) to be more like a GIRL.

I want to see young men who are driven and empowered. Who are in charge of their lives and know what they're doing with that life. I want to see guys who are honestly social and socially honest; not just guys who put up a front for the crowds just to lie their way into some girl's bed.

(Yes I realize that's important for many of you but consider your life OUTSIDE the bar and bedroom. Just consider it for a moment. What does it consist of?)

Here's another "girly" trait I think a lot of guys should learn. How to pick your friends.

Let's do a little exercise here:
Who's your best friend? Ok, now who's your best friend of the same gender? Do you have a "best man"?

If no, why not? Let me guess, "cuz it's GAY" right? Well no. You're wong and you should be ashamed for being so insensitive, but please keep reading, perhaps we can reconcile this.

Guys, you need to pick your friends the way we girls pick our friends.

*First, you must share some common interests. NOTE: Chicks, booze, and partying are NOT valid interests for exercise. All of these are a given for people in your age group, find somehting else to bond over. Music, movies, video games, shared talents or hobbies. (Yes, you can have hobbies, it's ok!)

*Next, you must share some common ideals, opinions or outlooks; be they religious, political, ideological, get the idea. I want you to use your head that has the brain in it, that's what it's there for. As humans we are made to think and think in depth! Put aside the animal for a bit and be a man!

*Lastly, you must be able to TALK to this person. No, this is NOT "Gay." Think back to the anecdote I shared about my friend in distress. I talked him through his problem. This is something that girls do but it shouldn't just be limited to us. Guys, I know you have feelings too, and it's not "gay" or "weak" to have to share them, especially if they're weighing on you. You'll get a lot more respect for being honest with people than you will putting up a front and acting tough and detatched. (I'll let you in on a secret, it's a lot more attractive too!)

This last point is crucial. Your best friend, your "bro" or whatever you want to call him, should be someone you can earnestly talk to and who can talk to you in turn while still (and this is the imporant part) RESPECTING each other's privacy and feelings. If your best bro shares some deep stuff with you and you go and make fun of him for it with other people you know...Well you're a horrible person and I'd be ashamed to call you a human being. Simple as that. I have no insult for you. You're just a horrible heartless thing.

So girly! That's the best way I can put it. You have to take charge of your lives, be your own person! I know it's tempting to just be some face in the crowd, it's so much easier when no one knows who you are, but what's the point, then? Are you really living?

Now I'm not telling you to abandon your current circle of friends and strike off on your own. Everyone needs friends, even guys need friends. And sharing your thoughts or feelings isn't "gay", okay? It's a normal human need. Maybe you're just not used to it, so you should give it a try.

Here's my challenge to you. This is a GIRL issuing you a challenge, sir. Will you accept?

Go find your "best man", "bro", "wingman" whatever you call him. Go find your closest male friend and ask him something personal. Not too personal, start with something bygone like a childhood fear. Maybe ask him if he was afraid of the dark as a kid. Were you? Admit something to him, something simple like that. (I'll start you off, I was deathly afraid of spiders as a kid, even the little ones.)

Congratulations; once you've got this exchange going successfully (be persistent if he shrugs you off, maybe try asking while you're both distracted with something, maybe while gaming) you're sharing! Huzzah, your growth as a sensitive and perceptive young adult has begun! How does it feel? Not too different, right? I told you it wasn't gay.

Try striking up a heart-to-heart with a female friend next, you'll find we're easier to talk to about this sort of thing. (If she asks why, say another girl dared you to become more socially aware. She won't get it but it'll help break the ice.) Once you've got some practice with heartfelt conversation, you're well on your way to being more of a human.

Until next time.