Boys Adrift: Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax
Sax explores the underachieving boys of our culture and what contributes to their refusal to engage in life and grow into responsible adults. He focuses on the affects of ADHD meds, video games, endocrine disruptors in plastics, teaching methods which are more suited to girls than boys, and the general devaluation of traditionally masculine traits.
It is the video games which struck home for me. I know so many boys in their late teens and twenties who should be transitioning to adulthood, but who look for adventure and a sense of accomplishment from success in video games rather than seeking it in careers or relationships or family life or even real-life adventures. They prefer the comfort and safety of a video monitor over true risk and real adventure.
The numbers of young people this affects were incredible, but not shocking. I know too many young men, like those in the book, who drop out of college because they would rather play video games than go to class, who work low paying jobs because they don't want to deal with the demands of a career, who simply retreat from family and friends because it is easier to control things on a screen than to work through relationships and risk failures that cannot be reset on a game.
The letters which Sax received in response to an article in the Washington Post said as much as Sax did about the phenomena. Letter after letter from parents, wives, friends, and the boys themselves confirming that opting out of adult responsibilities is more and more common.
Sax also confirmed what I'd read earlier this year in Matthew Crawford's Shop Class as Soulcraft. Today, even those who reject college are not interested in the trades. American boys would rather work minimum wage at Macy's than become certified plumbers earning close to six figures.
Unfortunately for many of us, Sax addresses here how to counterbalance these trends when raising boys, but does not offer much for dealing with those who are grown but not grown up.