TED Conversations

Andrea Morisette Grazzini

CEO, WetheP, Inc.


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Is the "demise of guys" a harbinger for the demise of human development?

Renowned researcher Philip Zimbardo crystallizes an unintended consequence of digital economy. It appears male social, educational and sexual capacities are undermined by the ubiquity of consumer resources online.

The lynch-pin that has been removed? Real-life experience. The result? A stunting of relational learning.

Without in-person experience, social skills regress. Without social skills, education is truncated. Only so much learning goes on without ongoing human interaction.

As example: Boy’s sexual development is now predominantly accessed via computer. Without trial and error in real relationships, boys can’t learn the complex give-and-take co-responsiveness required for successful, sustained partnerships at home, in school and work. Needless to say, females lose out too without males to learn with.

All conspire in a viscous cycle that leaves significant gaps in human development. Researchers and others have sounded this alert for some time, to little avail. Some I've written of:

Author Jon Scieszka -- http://sparkaction.org/node/443
College football players – http://bit.ly/rgE6m8
Psychologist Michael Thompson PhD -- http://bit.ly/oWs0Ar

Now a quickening effect is underway. Its impacts don’t bode well for either gender.

An example: US researchers now find it difficult to find male subjects who haven't bought sex, in part, due to online marketing. Which, in turn, scaffolds regressive social norms that further undermine healthy relationships.

Compounding these are trends in other countries where infanticide and abortion insure greater numbers of boys, ostensibly for economic production. It is expected there will be 50 million more men than women populating India and China in 2021.

Imbalances like these lead to increased violence and crime, including sex trafficking. Which, in turn, strap resources needed for building education and family systems.

Can we derail this demise of guys—and, can doing so save our societies?


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    Aug 9 2011: We can attempt to blame these negative behaviors of men on video games, or pornography, but let's address the real issue. It starts at birth, with family dinamics. Broken homes, parents who work too much, not close enough relationships with parents, lack of spirituality, lack of belonging, too much media and tv, not enough extracurricular activities, not finding thier talents, not raised with good morals and ideals, family where women are treated badly or looked down upon, lack of exposure to sex and the human body, peer pressure, culture where negative behaviors are glorified by thier groups, lack of empathy, trauma's as a child, etc.

    We need to tackle these problems. Single parents need to find thier children a mentor (big brother, sister)
    Get kids involved in teamwork: art, photography, sports, debating, conflict resolution, group projects
    Parents need to pay close attention: give more advice, and be a listener rather than quick to judge/punish
    Media: needs to clean up thier act, and put more emphasis on postive rather than negative
    Communities need to create a sense of belonging and working together.
    People of influence(cops politicians) need to get out there and be more proactive, show themselves on a personal level, give more talks at school.
    More church, or spiritual services.
    More family dinners.
    More people willing to accept people for who they are, the beauty and how to accept diversity.
    More mediating in schools, and couselors who are on the youths levels so they feel okay opening up to them.
    More interaction (adopt a grandparent) with our elders to bring back old school values.
    Less divorce, or waiting for marriage to be sure of compatibility, and more communicating and conflict resolution between adults and parents.
    More role models.
    More clubs and groups
    More open about gender and the human bodies.
    Making things less taboo, but rather focusing on deemphasizing the matter, and educating them on things because everyone knows kids can b rebellious
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      Aug 12 2011: Good Idealistic Ideas Kelli, but the actual possibilites are not aligned for this to happen. Society is changing, and the rate of change itself seems to be speeding up (although my advancing age might be influencing this perception). We cannot stop the change. We cannot even adapt to the change and we become less and less able to adapt to the change as we age. Heck, we can't even agree on the FACT that the planet is changing. This conversation is making me a nihilist. Your ideas are conservative to the point of reactionary, almost as if women must retake the veil to save our souls. Society, the planet and humans are changing and our puny attempts to slow this down or return to the old days is doomed to failure. We might perhaps learn how to adapt faster. But stop the change, no, I don't think so.
      • Aug 18 2011: Now you're going to hate me Renzo, for being such an idealist, but I have to ask where you get your evidence that change is inevitably headed in a constant direction of greater suffering? Things go up and down and I would agree that society overestimates it's level of civilisation and vastly underestimates it's own brutality (I was going to say animal brutality, but I've got nothing against animals or our own animal nature) - and yet some progress has been made over time, with up and down changes and pendulums swinging too far to the other extreme, but at least in some nations few people these days would easily get away with sticking a spike through your skull or drowning you in a river as a 'cure' for 'mental illness' (political/social dissent?). Not many 'witches' burned at the stake these days either.
        So I'm sorry I don't agree with your defeatist attitude. Things may go slowly and pose a real challenge and the forms of oppression have become more subtle in response to growing awareness, but you and I have some power to influence change in more desirable directions. Though I admit I have also felt much despair when the world seems full of deaf ears and don't wish to invalidate your feelings on this matter. But since when did we expect life to be a piece of cake anyway?
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          Aug 18 2011: Oddly, I appreciate your comments, but I don't consider my opinions to be quite as negative as you see them. Maybe I flatter myself.

          We have little right to expect anything from this experience of being alive. That is partly my point. So much is beyond our control, and I think that we fool ourselves somewhat in thinking that we "can" control the whole thing. I think of hoarders who save everything in a doomed attempt to hold on to the past.

          I do agree with almost everything else you said, however ("more subtle oppression", "deaf ears" "not many witches burned at the stake"). I think for example, burning witches is directly comparable to executing the mentally handicapped and imprisoning drug offenders and the like in modern days. Just sayin'........
      • Aug 18 2011: I see what you're saying and I agree. And whereas I am idealistic I don't wish to escape the dark side of current reality that really needs to be spoken about.

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