I attended a talk by Philip Zimbardo a few weeks ago. He’s an accomplished psychologist known for his famous Stanford Prison experiment, where randomly selected students were assigned roles of prison guards and prisoners in a mock prison. Within days, the guards engaged in psychological torture and many prisoners passively accepted it. The experiment showed that the situation, rather than personality, caused the change in behavior.
But on this occasion his talk was on masculinity. The thrust of his argument was that boys and young men today are undergoing a crisis of masculinity never seen before. One dimension of this is that technology now allows boys to become socially isolated and enter the virtual world of video games and other more seedy websites. This results in boys and young men becoming socially awkward, withdrawn and maladapted to the real world. Quite an eye opener.