Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mount TBR #15

I read this book for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge hosted over at My Reader’s Block from January 1 – December 31, 2017. The challenge is to read books that you already own.

Man Disconnected: How Technology has Sabotaged What it Means to be Male - Philip Zimbardo and Nikita D. Coulombe

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo is most well-known for the Stanford Prison Experiment and his work on shyness. In this 2014 book, he and a colleague examine the perturbing state of young males in post-modern society all over the world. Discussed here are studies showing that boys are disenchanted with an educational system that doesn’t teach in modes that boys prefer.  Along with reading, boys put the whole educational enterprise into the bucket labelled “a girl thing.” Another growing tendency is for boys to be attracted to and maintain association with exclusively male-dominated social groupings. Guys are a lot more predictiable and thus safer; girls stand in the middle of social minefields.

Other alarming symptoms are the tendency for boys to be alone in their rooms too much, spending too much time with video games and online porn. Doing so, they consume and create nothing. Living at home with their parents, they don’t even help with chores because, as males, they feel entitled to be waited on.

I think the best part of the initial part of the book is the summary of research examining what happens to brain chemistry when boys play video games and click through hundreds of online pornographic images. 13 hours a week with video games is the average for teenage boys; by the time they are 21 the average boy has spent 10,000 hours with video games, the time it takes to get two bachelor degrees at a university. The values of videogames are about domination and competition, which males like.

The average for porn is two hours a week, usually consumed as a break from gaming. Zimbardo describes “arousal addiction,” in these terms:  “in order to get the same amount of stimulation, you need new material, seeing the same images over and over again becomes uninteresting after a short time. The key is novelty of visual experience.” Given the frightening endlessness of internet porn, millions of hot babes beckon. Porn also induces ED because averagely-endowed males compare themselves with huge-peckered porn stars and then worry about their ability to last a half-hour like the porn dudes seem to. Basically porn is poison for the brain.  

The researchers point to many reasons for these troubling signs. Too many families have parents that work all the time, leaving teenage boys without their father’s advice or even physical presence. Boys talk to father only about 30 minutes a week on the average, while spending hours in front of screens. Millions of boys are living without fathers at all, which causes many problems for mothers and sons (at least) when boys hit adolescence. Boys are dealing with myths of the patriarchy (boys must be strong at all times, boys must lead at all times) versus post-modern expectations for boys to be caring, empathic and always taking” no” to mean “no.” Intractable unemployment and shrinkage in the number of jobs where males can use their hands along with their brains have not helped boys find a place is society either.

The final third of the book tells what government, schools, men, and women can do to improve the problems that young males face in our culture. I thought the book was worth reading as a description of the problems. Much interesting research was cited, which was a plus. On the other hand, various experts like George Carlin were cited and hobgoblins such as “political correctness” were invoked as explanations. As always, keep the critical-thinking cap on. Firmly. 

1 comment:

  1. Leonard Sax has written on this topic - Boys Adrift was one of his books that I've read. The role of technology is interesting & frightening. I recently finished a book called 'We' by Yegevny Zamyatin. Dystopian type of book where technology makes possible a mechanised society. Thoughtful review!