It used to be that girls were the ones considered vapid and empty-headed. The stereotypical female was a girl who could gab endlessly about absolutely nothing, who was incapable of applying her mind to more complex or philosophical ideas. She required the assistance of logical, sound-minded men to guide her through a life that was far too difficult for her to navigate independently. Of course, we know that women throughout history were just as smart as they are today and simply weren’t given enough educational opportunities. And many women cleverly used this stereotype to their advantage in order to manipulate their husbands and bosses.
The game, however, is changing.
Women are outnumbering men in college 2 to 1, and that number is quickly climbing. There is an epidemic of men “failing to launch” and living in mom’s basement well into their thirties. The future ramifications are clear: women will soon far outnumber men in the most powerful, lucrative, and influential positions in the world. The next generation of women will have no choice but to be the breadwinners for their households.
Sadly, many of our boys today are choosing to fulfill the newly vacated role of the superficial simpleton. I’m observing this trend among my high school boys, and it alarms me. When I overhear their conversation before or after class or in the halls, there are usually only two subjects of discourse: sports and video games. Mostly just video games. Pity the poor child who doesn’t have them or isn’t allowed to play them. He is excluded from male friendships because he has no common ground with other boys. These conversations are utterly vapid and worthless.
“That level has a fire moat. The fire moat’s awesome because if you push the zombies into it, they melt and all their stuff melts.”
“Yeah, it has some new weapons now. If you upgrade your system, you can get more advanced weapons. Those guns are way better than the ones in the old version.”
And on and on and on and on it goes. It’s almost physically painful for me to hear these conversations and to realize the ramifications of video game addictions. These boys will invest years of their lives in endeavors that produce almost no tangible reward. They will miss opportunities to develop relationships, build real-life skills (sorry, but “hand-eye coordination” doesn’t count), and expand their minds through learning. They will lose themselves in a labyrinthine world of instant gratification and mindless entertainment.
Some of them will never re-emerge.
Video games aren’t necessarily evil in and of themselves; playing them once in a while is usually as harmless as any other escape. It’s the addiction that’s the problem. And yes, one may develop an addiction to almost anything. But when I hear these conversations, I’m slowly realizing that some of these boys aren’t just unwilling to engage in intelligent conversation–they are slowly becoming incapable of engaging in intelligent conversation.
True, girls engage in more than their fair share of flaky discourse. But I find that they converse on a much wider variety of topics, and when the time comes for serious discussion in class, they are capable of thinking more deeply about most topics.
While some may say that it’s about time and that this new imbalance doesn’t begin to balance the scales of history when you consider millennia of female oppression, I see this as a cause for extreme concern. Nothing works well when society is out of balance and any group is underrepresented or marginalized.
I see some young men at my school that give me hope. They are strong, independent thinkers who will one day become dynamic leaders in their homes, churches, and workplaces. We need a movement of young men unwilling to settle for empty pursuits. We need young men willing to be considered unpopular in order to devote themselves to more worthwhile endeavors. We need a society of true equality, a society in balance.