Lonely Men Make for Weak Men Despite What They Can Deadlift
Commentary by Ernesto Tinajero | FāVS News
Many men today are in trouble, as they are experiencing higher rates of drug addiction, suicides and deaths from despair. Many commentators, social media influencers and, even, government officials have proposed solutions to what they call the crisis of masculinity. They are calling men to return to traditional masculine virtues such as courage, strength and a hierarchical structure of culture to solve the despair many feel.
While this sounds good, many like Jordan Peterson, Andrew Tate and Bronze Age Pervert have exploited the call to return to the past as a way to restore the fortunes of contemporary men to fame and fortune (a lot of fortune).
But are they right?
Are weak men a result of feminism and a society that effeminates men and glorifies feministic virtues of peace, kindness, goodness and gentleness? Are we becoming a nation of sissified men?
The irony of the-return-to-the-past-to-restore-the-glory-of-manhood hustlers of YouTube, TikTok and so many podcasts is their complete ignorance of the past. If they would crack a history book beyond a five-minute scan through Wikipedia, they would find their exact critique of weak men and a need to return to traditional manhood is as old as the founding of the country.
From the Founding Father James Madison and the mid-Victorian muscular Christianity writers to Teddy Roosevelt, Bernarr Macfadden and Billy Sunday at the turn of the 20th century, all made the same arguments about the weakness of contemporary men.
So where was this golden age of American manhood?
The reason for these supposed weak men differs from century to century. Ideas include too much wealth, the loss of the frontier, factory jobs, the loss of the family, becoming a nation of pencil pushers, the idle rich, too much indoor living, feminism, the rise of motorcars replacing horse travel, forgetting to work on cars and so on. It has been in an American pastime to think the real men were in the past.
For the founders, real men were the pioneers that first settled the land. For the mid-19th century, real men were the founders’ generation. For the turn of the 20 century, it was the generation of the Civil War. For the Depression era, it was the WW1 generation. For the late 20th century, it was the WWII generation. Remember, becoming sissified men was coined all the way back in the late 19th century.
Despair among many contemporary men is real. So if it is not caused by the crisis of manhood that many claim, what could it be the cause?
So, what’s the real cause of this despair among men?
God says toward the beginning of the Bible, “It is not good for a human to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18). This was said before splitting the human into male and female creating the adventure of humanity.
The truth of this story is that loneliness is a spiritual threat to all of us. We need each other to be fully human and to be the image of God.
So what does this have to do with a series on manhood and the crisis men are facing in modern America?
The endemic of loneliness has been an important area of study since Robert Putnam’s ground-breaking work in 2000, “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.” The observation that fueled the book was the slowly eroding of community groups and support systems like fellowship, social groups and even churches. The trends Putnam identified have, if anything, increased since the publication.
The increasing loneliness among men
We now see more articles documenting the epidemic of loneliness, including the recent and bleak 2023 report “The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community.”
Loneliness can be just as dangerous to health and wellbeing as smoking 15 cigarettes is the theme to a June 2023 Fortune Well article.
Christine Emba leads July 2023 Washington Post Opinion Essay with the title, “Men are lost. Here’s a map out of the wilderness.” She writes, “men also account for almost 3 of every 4 ‘deaths of despair,’ either from a suicide, alcohol abuse or an overdose.”
Modern America has bred a certain type of loneliness, and this epidemic of loneliness is not limited to males.
Still, solutions that have been sold as a cure to male loneliness have been the old tropes that weak men are created by an unwelcoming culture, as well as their need to return to traditional masculinity virtues of stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression.
The problem with such a solution is that it does not address the real need.
Men today need more friends than the need to deadlift more pounds in the gym.
We are in a crisis of lack of friends and not in a crisis of manhood.
The seminal study, “The Harvard Study of Adult Development,” which has passed the 80-year mark, makes it clear that a successful life in terms of well-being and vitality comes from friends.
This is part two in Ernesto Tinajero’s “Manhood Series: The Courage to Be.” Read part one here.
Art, says Ernesto Tinajero, comes from the border of what has come before and what is coming next. Tinajero uses his experience studying poetry and theology to write about the intersecting borders of art, poetry and religion.