Authenticity and Masculinity in the New Era

In today’s super-competitive economy and meritocracy, the value of an individual to society is measured by his or her income/wealth, educational attainment, professional contributions, online karma points, expert status and IQ/SAT scores. To have a lot of Karma means your contributions and opinions are valued by others; therefore, in the court of online public option, you’re an important person.

The left, starved for crisis, is looking for any excuse, no matter how small, for things to get worse. Recent examples include Carl Ichan’s alleged stock tips or BNP Paribas’ “secret weapon” to “violate U.S. sanctions against Sudan”. This is the apex of minutia. The absence of news has become news.

From Ross Douthat:

And I just don’t quite know what he’s talking about, because in our culture — Western, English-speaking, American — the traditional iconography of masculine heroism doesn’t really resemble this “Grand Theft Auto”/”Scarface” description at all. I mean, yes, if the “tradition” you have in mind is Pashtun honor killings, then I agree, traditional masculinity would be better off extinct. But where American society is concerned, when I look at the sewers of misogyny or the back alleys of “bro” culture, I mostly see men in revolt against both feminism and our culture’s older images of masculine strength and self-possession, not men struggling to inhabit the latter tradition, or live up to its impossible/immoral demands.

Ross Douthat is right about ‘traditional masculinity’ dying off or being re-defined. Unlike the last generation, in the collective American psyche, the idols of this generation are not macho men as embodied by Arnold and Stallone or glam/hair metal frontmen like Poison’s Bret Michaels, but beta-male INFP public figures and scientists such as Bill Nye, physicists like Neal Degrase Tyson, quirky YouTube celebrities and alternative comedy, baby-faced actors like Seth Rogan, and sociologists and provocateurs like Steven Pinker and Charles Murray. Even Malcom Gladwell is too alpha male and not empirical enough. This is because the millennials are smarter and more discriminating than any earlier generation, possibly due to the Flynn Effect, more rigorous schooling, and society’s recent preference of intellect over brawn. Many millennials, especially the older ones, look up to geniuses, the internet elite and socialites more than actors, athletes and singers. Doing work and practice has ceded to conceptualizing, generalizing and theorizing and whoever has the biggest theory, however impractical or esoteric, is the ‘winner’. In the smartist era of stocks always going up, to be an expert or an authority in a field is the pinnacle human achievement, but to try and come up short will subject one to considerable scorn and derision for being a poseur. We lavish praise and adulation on these empiricists and theoreticians, like ancient gods of the past, for their approval and in the hope that their powers can rub off on us. The beta male, a construct of the millennial generation, worships authenticity and experience, whether it’s a businessman like Warren Buffet, a rapper like 50 cent, a day trader that makes a lot of money, an expert of quantitative finance, a hedge fund manager like Steve Cohen or a physicist like Sean Carroll.

Seems like the world is changing faster than we can keep up. People are getting smarter and richer than ever as stocks keep going up. So much wealth to be had. So much stuff going on. We’re in a productivity and technology revolution. A paradigm shift or polar reversal where the rules of the game are being re-written. An economic boom where few seem to participate, yet so much wealth is being created. As quoted by Louis CK, ‘everything is wonderful and no one is happy’ As measured by technological progress and wealth, we are in the best of times and yet so many people seem to be permanently wedged between the cracks like coins under the cushion of a couch.

Our schools should not lower standards, they should raise them, for those capable of doing college work, whatever their race. At the same time, we must recognize that many cannot meet that standard, and we should be prepared to teach them to their abilities and give them sound fundamentals for life.

Saving the World From Book Clubs

Though, in fairness and with respect, I can’t think of any worse way to spend college than laboring over Heidegger for fun. Maybe if you take a shot every time you don’t understand something. Seriously, kids, you’re 20 years old. Live a little.

That’s because those who are’t interested in that stuff are less likely to go to college or more likely to not finish. In the smartist era, with stocks at historic highs and interest rates never going up again, people want to do things that make them smarter because that’s how you move up the socioeconomic ladder and gain approval from your peers, in accordance with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s not like any earlier decade like 80’s and 90’s when students liked to party and listen to pop music; many still do, but not like before. Times have changed. The youth are more serious, quixotic and introspective.