Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Lost Boys

“I never wanna grow up!” protests Peter Pan. Leading his band of boys in fun, dangerous, but ultimately insignificant adventures, he personifies the modern American guy. We all know these guys and many of them are my friends. They’re so much fun! Chances are, however, that they are single, their most significant investment last year was a new Xbox, and they still live with their parents or with other immature guy friends.

It used to be simple: you were either a child or an adult. The industrialization of Western culture in the early 1900s added a small gap in between, commonly known as high school. Further advances in the 50s and 60s developed the college step to adulthood. Now, yet another demographic has formed, a sort of post-adolescent/pre-adulthood. People in their 20s have decided to postpone acquiring the social markers of maturity until they feel “ready.”

A unique brand of limbo has been in gestation for the past couple decades and has reached fruition in my generation. This is most evident in marriage statics that remind us that only 40 years ago, only 15% of people reached age 30 before marriage—today, that number has tripled to 55%. An even more interesting statistic is that women are dominating the 20-something age-group.

Left on our own, we females have taken the energy which traditionally would have been devoted to a family and are pouring it into our careers. More women are graduating from college and getting better jobs than men for the first time in history. An increasing amount of research into this socio-economic phenomenon has been coming out recently, searching for an explanation. It seems to boil down to the fact that boys aren’t becoming men because they don’t have to.

Ask almost any of my single girl friends and she’d tell you that she does not want to go it alone, but if a man won't commit, she has no other choice. We are finally reaping the fruits of feminism. Our mothers’ generation emasculated their husbands and raised their sons without fathers. Now those boys are in their 20s and have no idea how to be men—and our current culture is perfectly okay with that stunted condition.

Who wants to work when you can have fun? Those of my peers who have married, settled down, or otherwise gotten serious about their lives are considered weird. Somewhere between childhood and adulthood, boys are getting lost. Guys who have supposedly grown up are still fighting pirates in video games, prolonging juvenile fantasies and irresponsibility with the resources which should be used for bettering themselves and society as a whole… they’re still being Lost Boys.

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