Lost Boys

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I was at Disney World recently and one of the amazing things what how crowded the Peter Pan ride was.  Peter Pan is an older character so you wouldn’t think the ride would be crowded.  However, the appeal of Peter Pan is as strong as ever.

Peter Pan and the lost boys were a group of boys who live in Neverland and did not grow up.  Even as time passed, they remained the same.  One of the tragedies of our society today is we have created a culture of lost boys and the effects are devastating.  Young men are growing up in age but not in emotional maturity.  They are getting older but often remain lost boys when it comes to maturity and responsibility.  This fact is not to blame or bash them, the reality remains that too many young men have not had the older men to show them how to be a man.

 Rudyard Kipling in his famous 1895 poem If closes with this line, “And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”  The hunger to be a man is a drive that lives inside every young man today.  Young men struggle with a role less existence and often escape into a virtual world.

Wandering Men

  1. When a clear role does not exist for young men, they will wander toward the extremes of society or they will jump from role to role trying to find their purpose.  They may be focused on physical fitness and trying to get six-pack abs one month, only to switch to focusing on learning the ukulele the next month.  This drives older people crazy and they want the young man to “grow up,” however they oftentimes do not give the young man a clear picture of what they are “growing up” into.

  2. When society tells a young man to follow their heart, they do not know what that means.  They want to see concrete examples of what it is to be a man, however, too many young men are growing up without a man in their life to show them how to be a man.  They are forced to learn on their own.  This dynamic causes many young men to walk in a constant state of insecurity.  This insecurity often drives young men to escape to a virtual world.

Virtual Men

  1. Escaping to a virtual gaming world has become a mainstay in many young men’s lives.  Games provide a clearly defined role and goal for them and so they give large amounts of their time and efforts to them.  Many young men stay very busy as they grow up trying to achieve in school or sports and then moving to their virtual games at night.  This overstuffed schedule serves a purpose.  To keep them from having to really think about who they are and why they exist.  

  2. Gaming should not be seen as the enemy, but the reality of a generation seeking to escape.  They want to escape the pressure to perform when they do not know why they are performing.  Games give them a virtual escape where they live in well-defined roles and have a well-defined purpose.  As young men immerse themselves into these virtual worlds, there can be a tendency to live passively in their everyday life.  This further frustrates them and drives them to escape to their virtual worlds even more.

What does a young man do when he lives in this situation?  Everything starts with recognition.  They must recognize where they are at and find a way to start their quest toward authentic manhood.

If you are a young man, have you started the journey or are you still wandering? You can start by seeing if you are Playing Pretend

If you are an older man, are you helping young men or sitting back and criticizing them for their wandering?

Lost boys are a cute story in Peter Pan, but they are a sad reality in real life.


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