Neil Greco

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Men are More Socially Isolated than Women.

As a man, a father of 4 boys I have many roles. None of them place a high importance on social interactions, especially with other men. If I provide for my family, etc. I am "ok." No one worries if I don't get out enough with the boys. However, in the case of my wife, it's quite different. She had always been a part of "Mothers of Preschoolers." She has Women's groups available. Groups that often include social gatherings, fellowship and just time to unwind and de-compress with other mothers/women. There is a significant lack of social resources for men. Places we can go to meet and talk with other fathers and men in general. Our church has one. However, it's an am coffee chat that is reminiscant of the 1950s model where emotion and angst and joy are pretty much forbidden.

My question is? Do you think men are more socially isolated and does that impact our overall health and happiness? If so, what is a solution? If not, where are the opportunities for men to find social gatheriings... besides pool halls or a softball field?

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    Jun 23 2011: Thanks for your comments. Really my research was two-fold... Firstly, as a father of a 15, 13, 9 and 6 six year old boy, I have seen my wife engage in wonderful groups were you are correct in that they are more social, more vulnerable and very supportive of one another in and out of the groups. I did look for a Men's group and only found one, which it turned out I knew the founder, but he had since developed some type of neurological disorder that he had to pass it on. He's a neat, caring guy. I contacted the group and it's charter was for at home fathers, only. I hear you on historical men's groups or associations. However, I don't think the average Joe has an affiliation with such groups.

    I have worked with teens and families for several years. I had the opportunity to get to know a lot of fathers of whom seemed socially isolated, depressed, angry etc.. Without a flinch when I mentioned the 'what if' men had groups similar to the (seemingly many) ones that exist for men, they would see that as supportive. I have had talks with parents of my children over the last several years and unless the father was highly involved with boy scouts, or an adult sport league, they too work, go home, go back to work, etc.. This doesn't mean all the women and mother's I've met or worked with were socially involved in groups. However, as you alluded to, men really don't seem to have the social networks women do.

    I did for a few months start a Men's Blog.. But really delving into that didn't seem feasable. It would be nice if community or political leaders found this as an important cause... I think less men would hesitate to become more open and socially connected if men whom they could extol as beyond any definition of weakness (by a man's standards of success, etc..) showed the way. I think it might take that to pull men out of the shadows, so to speak.

    Again, thanks for the great response.. :)

    Neil
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    Jun 23 2011: I am not sure that men are more socially isolated, for if you look at history, most clubs/associations were started by men ie Knights of Columbus, Moose, etc. But, I think they may have needed a social outlet due to the fact that they are not social by nature compared to women and these organizations did not only this but also often had an "agenda" of sorts as well. However, again looking at just the social issue, look at how you are with your friends compared to women. You can sit and watch a game and say not a word to each other for long stretches of time, but women, for the most part, have a harder time keeping quiet, for females talk more than males...and as a teacher, I can attest to it. But getting back to male clubs, I have read that membership is declining across the board as men are just not joining them. But why??? No one can put an exact finger on it, but many claim it is due to the stress of everyday life, as well as when the man is home, he doesn't want to leave his castle; but besides this, some claim that many are now either connecting anonymously on the net like you and your coffee chat or they are too busy doing inappropriate things on the net which isnegatively affecting their lives. I wish I could find the link, but the story was fairly recent,
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    However, with all of this said, do you think this effects your or men's health/happiness?? I am not sure. Did you do any research on it?? You had mentioned that you are in a coffee chat group....but is is just all men? If it is,then I could see it as just being "superficial" and macho in a way, for even though it is an anonymous group, no man would want to appear weak or show he has problems as even the "cyber" testosterone would not accept it. I think even today, it is hard for men to appear weak and that they have problems, especially if they were raised not to show it.

    I wish I could offer more....
  • Jun 26 2011: Men are more socially isolated than women. But social isolation has been on the rise (at least in the U.S.) for quite some time. Bill McKibben talks about the issue of increased social isolation and our hyperindividualistic society in his book "Deep Economy". McKibben suggests that increased isolation is at the root of a dramatic increase in the amount and frequency of depression in U.S. society.Isolation has definitely affected my health and happiness. I have been in a wrestling match my whole life with social anxiety. Consequently, my social skills and social health (number and quality of frienes) has suffered. Also, for whatever reasons, in the past I've ended up self-isolating socially. This isolation has contributed to depression, reduced cognitive function and atrophied/weak social skills (which leads to more difficulty making connections....)Solutions, I'm dying for some. Meeting people at local coffee shops has been my solution, but this is getting less useful the older I get. Another difficulty, I am not religious and wouldn't feel right about using church social organizations for fellowship. I started my own group, breifly, presenting TED talks at a local coffee shop and following the talks with informal group discussion. Finding an interest group on meetup.com is a potential solution. If you don't see a group that you would like to see. Creat the group you want and see if there is interest.

    Thanks for the good question. Here is a final thought about a long-term solution. Lets teach our children how to start, organize, and be good members of social organizations. Oh, and teach them the importance of these organizations.
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    Jun 25 2011: Viva ??
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    Jun 24 2011: In NZ, the original arrival of Europeans involved mostly men - whalers and sealers. It got to the point where men far outweighed the number of women.

    Academics have theorised that this lack of the fairer sex (that's a rather sexist statement!) lead to the uptake of contact sports (in particular, rugby - which, if you follow rugby, you'll know we are quite good at as a nation) as a way of providing socially acceptable ways for men to fulfill their human need for physical contact.

    I found this an interesting comment on the male psyche.

    These day, it's not uncommon for guys I know to embrace after not seeing each other for a while. It's acceptable, whereas, I'm sure this was not as acceptable in my father's day. We'll get there..