Tag Archives: fighting

Social Media…The Ultimate Showcase for Male Stupidity

In the past two days I’ve been called a “p/c pussy,” “spineless coward,” and “faggot” through social media platforms for acknowledging (not stating agreement or disagreement with) the opinions of certain minority individuals in America. The people I specifically commented about had said and done some things that I did not personally agree with, but I did not take that as an invitation to openly slander them in a public forum. Heck, even in person, there are some things we should probably just keep to ourselves, however valid we may believe our opinions to be. Apparently the people I’ve been observing missed that lesson in Kindergarten.

Whatever the case, I have to say that mostly I feel bad for the guys posting the inane, poorly formulated, unsupported and just plain stupid comments I’ve been seeing lately. Social media is surely one of the greatest community-building arenas in the history of the world, while at the same time being one of the lowest forms of communication ever invented. The anonymity and distance provided by the keyboard/touch screen allows people to stoop to new lows in human interaction.

I truly believe that the man who made the above comments would not have done so in person. He was agitated and likely felt challenged to support his position against “attack” from someone (me) who voiced an alternative opinion. In thinking about how this all relates to manhood, I realized that aggressive, unsophisticated, vulgar language may be the only way some men feel they have to protect themselves in the digital space (money and physical intimidation are not options here). When someone like me comes along and does not play the escalating game so common and seemingly essential for many men establishing their sense of masculinity, they aren’t sure what to do (F*** you! No, F*** you!!! F*** your mother!!!! and so on).

Maybe we need to do a better job as a culture of providing boys/men with appropriate expressive (even agitated/emotional) language to use in public discourse. Is this an artifact of the digital communication culture? A consequence of the 160 character communications of Twitter and texting? Are we now just going to use brief grunts and insults to communicate our ideas? I hope not.

It’s a shame that so many men stoop to this level, giving the rest (majority?) of the civilized, secure, and otherwise strong men in the digital space a bad name. I’m sure it happens, but I’m having a hard time thinking of a time when I saw a group of women digitally duking it out. Seems to be more of a guy thing. (NPR recently discussed a humorous related study exploring why men typically sweep the Darwin Awards.).

Let’s fix this. Don’t escalate. Be respectful. And if a man challenges you with insults, show greater strength by walking/clicking away. It’s not that he’s beyond help. You’re just not the person that going to change his mind and his life over Twitter, Facebook or the comments section of a blog/article. Stay confident and classy out there, men.

*Photo obtained from http://www.ads-ngo.com/tag/legambiente/

The Dreaded “Chick Stick”

The use of the “chick stick” came into question during a recent game of pool with my brother, brother-in-law, and younger male cousins. My 16 year-old cousin needed to make a shot from a significant distance across the table. He was given the option of using the “chick stick” (bridge), but was warned–in a semi-joking way–that this was not the way “real men” strike the cue ball. We were of course referring to this age-old notion that men only do things the hard way. Taking the easy way out is seen as weak, womanly/girly, and generally less masculine. I’m happy to say that my cousin didn’t let us get inside his head and he successfully used the bridge to make his shot.

To me, this strategy of encouraging men to take the more difficult of two roads to prove their masculinity is reminiscent of so many Discovery channel moments. One can easily envision two full-grown rams banging their heads together, giving each other concussion after concussion until one of them submits and walks away, defeated, likely never to mate again. Sure, they’re built for it, and in some ways the survival of their species depends on it, but why do we men do the same thing to each other? Why must the most difficult way be the manly way? Does this even make sense any more?

I suppose many of us convince ourselves that we compete for the sexual attention of women through displays of our physical prowess. There’s evolutionary evidence for this, and research would support the notion that there are certain traits that women find more attractive than others. However, I think we may be fighting a battle long since over. For those of us living in developed, 1st world nations, women no longer look to that physical prowess as their most enticing, sexually motivating factor. Where we men still prefer attractive physical features suggesting youth, health, and reproductive fitness, women all over the world prefer men with resources and status (Buss, 1995).

How does one acquire resources and status? Well, unless you are one of a very select group of professional football players, fewer UFC fighters, and even fewer boxers, you probably aren’t making too much scratch beating up other guys. Hit the weights to stay in shape, but don’t count on them to help you “get the girl.” Many of the wealthiest and apparently most desirable men in the world these days have used personality/charm, intelligence, intuition (business sense), and/or strong leadership/relationship skills to get to the top. This is what most women want most. Long gone are the days of beating each other up for attention.

With this in mind, to whom are we trying to prove ourselves? Women? Research would suggest no. Often they’re not even around for our little skirmishes. Think about the majority of the crowd at a school fight, a UFC fight, a football game. Sure, there are some women in attendance, but they’re the clear minority. We are trying to impress other men!

We are competing for women that are not around, don’t care, or would rather see a “civilized” approach to courting them including courtesy, sophistication, precision, respect and–yes–strength. But what kinds of strength? Certainly there will be many men out there that must maintain their physical strength for work. Blessings on you for carrying sacks of cement, 2x4s, tires, and heavy tools across the construction site. I appreciate your ability and willingness to bulk up your arms using a jackhammer on the street for hours at a time so my drive to the office is faster and more enjoyable. The rest of us thank you, but try not to think of yourself as just a tough guy. Don’t let your strength be the trait that defines you or the thing that you lean on in relationships. That can lead to unsatisfying, shallow, and–in more extreme cases–abusive relationships.

For the rest of us, the average guy, how much is enough, really? My wife needs me to reach high places in the kitchen, lift heavy boxes, move furniture around, open pickle jars, and lift the stroller into the trunk.  For most men, this is all the physical prowess our women need from us.

So carry on men. For the subset of women that still want to mate with a neanderthal, grunt away. Live at the gym. Display your largely useless physical strength. Chug that bottle of whiskey and race your monster trucks. Definitely leave the “chick stick” on the rack. For the rest of the women checking you out in 2015, show your strength of character, your strength of resolve, your strength of values, your strength of maturity, and–if necessary–your physical strength to open a jar or two. But let’s not fool ourselves. We’re mostly just trying to impress each other.