So, What’s Up With Men?

In a recent post, I shared some of the results of our survey on how Americans are keeping in touch with each other.

One of the insights the survey highlighted was that women care more about keeping in touch with their friends, family or important connections than men.

Also women favor the chatty, social, feature rich atmosphere of Facebook to connect with others, while men favor the quick, transactional and traditional E-mail to stay in touch.

Here’s Geoffrey Greif, cited in this article about friendship among men:

When we talked to men about issues with friendship and masculinity, a quarter or third of the men we talked to talked about the fear of appearing gay if they reached out to other guys for friendship.

Is it what this all is about? Are men oblivious to the benefits and virtues of friendships by fear of being castigated about their masculinity or lack thereof? or is it a natural state deeply ingrained in male psychology that many qualify as more competitive and less collaborative?

A while ago, a friend of mine, John Furey, drew a picture for me on a napkin in a restaurant. I’ll never forget it.

It looked a bit like this:

What this drawing shows is two tribes who are protecting their fire.

Men (in green) are protecting it from external dangers and potential invaders from other tribes. Women (in pink) are protecting it by making sure it stays alive.

As they look at each other via the fire, it’s easier for women to chat and engage with each other. However, they all look at the same thing (the fire) and the responsibility is shared, so there can be a some rivalries.

As they look for external dangers and not at each other, it’s easier for men to be competitive rather than to bond with each other. It’s clear among men of the same tribe who is supposed to guard which side, so there’s less internal rivalries, however they have to make more efforts to be efficiently coordinated.

It seems to validate Geoffrey Greif’s theory:

Men have ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ friendships and women have ‘face-to-face’ friendships.

I’m usually not thrilled about generalizations and stereotypes, but I found this one really funny and interesting to dig on.