Young men living the dream

Research shows that young men 18-30 are more likely to be living with their parents than with a woman.  And that the large number of the unemployed in this demographic are not only living with their parents but spending virtually all of the time they would normally be working playing video games.

But here is the kicker:  They LIKE living this way.  It isn’t that poor economic prospects are causing them to retreat into a depressing isolation.  They consider this a good life.  Expending their sexual impulses in internet pornography, rather than marriage or dating that could lead to marriage, and channeling all of their aggression into first person shooters, instead of the military or ambition or earning a living or protecting a family, this generation is happy, content, and living the dream.

So says Samuel D. James, drawing on the research of Erik Hurst and the insights of Russell Moore, excerpted and linked after the jump.

From Samuel D. James, America’s Lost Boys | First Things:

Where have America’s young men gone? According to Erik Hurst, an economist from the University of Chicago, they haven’t gone anywhere—they’re just plugged in. In a recent interview, Hurst says that his research indicates that young men with less than a four-year degree (according to virtually all data, that’s an increasing number) are spending their days unemployed and unmarried, but not un-amused. “The hours that they are not working have been replaced almost one-for-one with leisure time,” Hurst reports. “Seventy-five percent of this new leisure time falls into one category: video games. The average low-skilled, unemployed man in this group plays video games an average of twelve, and sometimes upwards of thirty hours per week.”

Hurst goes on: “These individuals are living with parents or relatives, and happiness surveys actually indicate that they [are] quite content compared to their peers, making it hard to argue that some sort of constraint, [such as that] they are miserable because they can’t find a job, is causing them to play video games.” In other words, the time these young men spend on Xbox and Playstation does not offer them relief from the stress of joblessness and existential inertia. On the contrary, for them it’s part of Living the Dream. . . .

Young men, significantly more so than young women, are stuck in life. Research released in May from the Pew Center documented a historic demographic shift: American men aged 18-30 are now statistically more likely to be living with their parents than with a romantic partner. This trend is significant, for one simple reason: Twenty- and thirtysomething men who are living at home, working part-time or not at all, are unlikely to be preparing for marriage. Hurst’s research says that these men are single, unoccupied, and fine with that—because their happiness doesn’t depend on whether they are growing up and living life.

This prolonged delay of marriage and relational commitment often means a perpetual adolescence in other areas of life. Love and sex are arguably the best incentives for men to assert their adulthood. But in the comfort of their parents’ homes and their gaming systems, young men get to live out their fantasies without the frictions of reality.

What does that sound like? It sounds like pornography. Could it be that one reason that millions of young American men feel satisfied with their perpetual adolescence is that their sexual appetites are sated by a steady diet of internet porn? . . .

A connection between enslavement to video games and enslavement to pornography is not far-fetched. As Russell Moore has noted, the former offers “fake war,” while the latter offers “fake love.” Between the Xbox and the X-rating, a young man can oscillate from the primal thrills of conquest to the orgasmic comfort of faux-intimacy. When these two temptations meet in the lonely dark of Mom and Dad’s basement, what’s not to like?

 [Keep reading. . .]

Be sure to read Russell Moore’s  2012 article Fake Love, Fake War, in which he shows how those two definitively masculine impulses–to have sex and to fight, which properly lead to love and valor, marriage and defending one’s family–are today squandered in porn and first-person shooters.

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