The Week #23 24th May, 2015

So back to chatting about what’s going on around the world at the moment now the election is over with.  Gay marriage – now legalised in Ireland after a high number of news outlets claimed it wouldn’t pass due to the huge catholic population living outside the urban areas and this got me thinking about gay marriage in general.  There is a lot of legal moves going on around the world at the moment; in the USA around 70% of the population live in a state where it is legal; in the UK it has been legal for a while, except in Northern Ireland – so why this change in the past few years and why has it taken so long? I suppose we first have to look at the generations that went before us. As America boomed and became the dominate power during the 40’s and 50’s the prudish and religious zealots fuelled the conscience of the world with its misogynistic views continuing through to the 90’s – you only have to look at the ‘hard men’ of the 60s – even to the mid 90’s – I watched an episode of Friends the other day and what struck me was how scared Joey and Chandler were about how much they hug and how close they where – worrying that it wasn’t manly. It seems that is has only been the last ten years really that perceptions have really changed, why is that?

Well l believe it’s due to manliness ‘fatigue’ and an overall fact that men now are socially lost as to their identity – a natural response probably due to the fact that the role of women has changed as they take their rightful place in the world – but this has led to a lack of clarity about the role of men in society, you could say they have lost their mojo!  A positive outcome is younger men are more tolerant (on the whole) than men in the past – given you only have to look as social media to see intolerance is still huge but there is a the quiet majority of men who want to be neutral about race, sexism and sexual preference – they just don’t have an issue and  I hope the next ten to twenty years we see this trend continue and we will be truly open for everyone to be who they are, or want to be. However, whilst we go through this transition there is marginalisation, one of the reason ISIS have so many foreign fighters is due to the fact a large number of young men just don’t know what their place is in the world and haven’t worked through what ‘being a man’ – it is an intrusting phenomena that as more countries have embraced the concept of a more equal these same countries have this struggle with deep social issues for the new marginalised groups – as gay and lesbian rights and women rights have increased we seen a growth in discontented young men.  I think the feminists’ are right when they point out that the decline of the patriarchy has had adverse affect on young men who have grown up in a traditional family that has a more mid-twentieth century take on roles.  I don’t really understand it as I grew up in a household where my mother has mostly been the bigger earner and the consistent bread winner and she holds senior management positions so to me women achieving is just the norm. However, I  can understand why young men find it difficult, our whole make up is built up about being stronger, being the protectors , providing for – that was how it was portrayed in the movies and now that has changed  as Hollywood presents hard fighting women holding their own in combat and most films in the cinema today have a strong female heroine, rolling her eyes at the men – which leads to the question ‘So what do we do?’  The conflict is that, as Ireland has shown today, roles are being redefined and young men, for the first time in human history don’t really have one. So what do you think?  I welcome the move to greater freedoms and the move away from discrimination on race, gender, religion (although religion and tolerance don’t always sit comfortably together – read my earlier comments on religion!) but this shift is pushing some groups into extremism and we can’t afford to ignore that – as unpalatable as it might be – just look at Russia and their right wing, white, male domination backlash – there are signs that society needs to re-calibrate.

My other topic for today is the issue of Instagram. I have been thinking about this for a while and I have talked about social media and how it can be damaging before. What I have noticed of late is that as the app is picture based there is an inevitable ostentatious use – when looking through the news sites and things of that nature I am seeing more and more stories from Instagram about people showing off, ‘Wolf’ of Instagram or something of that nature as some rich person is pictured showing off over the internet and gaining hundreds and hundreds of thousands of ‘watchers’ ( I don’t know what they are called)  and I believe that is damaging. Using myself as the guinea pig I went on a social media binge, using a friends log in as I don’t have my own, and after a week (last week hence no ‘The Week’ last Sunday) I found that I felt angry for almost the entirety of the week. I  talked with my friends and family about how unfair it is when you see some random person, who has not really done that much showing off his cars, house and wealth, which of course made me angry, jealous and generally feeling like a horrible human, that’s what my experiment showed me, Instagram following was a negative experience, serving to make people feel dissatisfied with their lot  I am concerned about damage it is doing to those  younger as  it is an app for just showing off. I like the idea of a picture app, it is nice to see what people are doing but it has moved into being a platform which can be damaging to younger minds and warp their view of what life should be about – I found I had an emotional reaction to it, despite being an adult – I was able to shut it down but I am not confident our teenagers can do so – which links a little to my first topic.

Finally, as a History graduate I am mourning the loss of the artefacts in the historic cities – another tragedy.  However, it is Bank Holiday tomorrow so I hope those of you able to take some time out enjoy it.  Have a good week.

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