Life s tyle
2627 IRISH TATLER MAN
It was once claimed that the more
things change, the more they
remain the same. However, it
seems the latest generation of
Irish men are paying no heed to
such assertions and are, instead,
busy doing things their own way,
writes Domhnall O’Donoghue
hen it comes to archetypes and “Some struggle with that – after all, difference can be something that
broad brush-strokes, there is simply takes time to digest. However, open conversations, personal stories and
no shying away from the fact time help,” Buckley notes. “There’s plenty still in common that can be
that society’s traditional definition shared and learned both ways.”
of a man has been radically
rebooted and rebranded. Eoin Corbett, a 20-year-old filmmaker, agrees and hopes that upon
seeing their children happy, a parent will be compelled to welcome these
In an era where racial diversity, religious freedom, and gender and changes, particularly when it comes to issues related to work.
sexual equality are, thankfully, making huge strides, Ireland has said slán
to those dusty days when our male population was expected to be the “I think that young men have more freedom now when it comes to
God-fearing, chest-thumping gatherer, who grunted rather than spoke; choosing a career,” Corbett says. “The increased freedom is so important
who fought rather than loved. Without a doubt, we have chanted céad and allows a lot more people to do what they want with their lives.
mile fáilte to modernity and embraced her new-fangled ways with gusto.
“This may cause some disagreements between fathers and sons, but
Whether we owe a tip of the hat to a wider access to education, I think they eventually come around when they see their sons happy and
the dramatic increase in travel opportunities or the gigantic presence doing what they want,” he concludes.
of technology and the internet in all of our lives, when it comes to
masculinity and the requirements of how a man should behave, it now “Fathers have always worried about their sons and it’s no different with
appears a more viable and interesting fluidity is being celebrated instead, this generation,” explains Derek Chambers, Director of Programmes and
where space is replacing confinement and variety is trumping uniformity. Policy at Reachout.com, the online service that supports young people
living with mental health issues.
“The social concept of gender is something that people seem to be
learning more and more about – it’s no longer static,” explains John “Fathers have also struggled to understand their sons, and perhaps
Buckley, Deputy Director at SpunOut.ie, Ireland’s youth information what has changed significantly is that career paths – and men define
website created by young people for young people. themselves and other men by their jobs – are marked by increasing
diversity. Many fathers literally don’t understand what their sons do, or
“What seems to have happened since the proliferation of the internet hope to do, for a living.
over the years is that the challenging of gender norms is growing and the
concept of what a man is, is slowly becoming more dynamic – where a “Then again, as long as money is being earned, most fathers really
variety of types can sit comfortably alongside each other. won’t mind too much.”
“Today, there is definitely a difference between generations,” Buckley Seeing as the well-worn rulebook of how to be a young man in the
continues, “although it’s not always conflict-focused.” world has been shown the proverbial door, it now appears that everything
is up for grabs.
Now that the goalposts have been moved, for harmony to exist
between the age groups, Buckley suggests that a desire to comprehend “Ireland used to have a preoccupation with life events – when you’re
needs to prevail and emerge triumphant. For instance, in terms of jobs, born, baptised, christened; when you finish school, have your debs, when
parents must manage their expectations and understand that there are you graduate; when you marry or buy the house. Our country seemed
now new and different career paths, and be accepting of the fact that to have a set of rules that we ‘should’ follow around these things,”
there are fewer ‘jobs for life’. They also have to embrace the alternative Buckley explains.
approaches to dating that currently take place, say, where multiple
partners is now the norm. “I think it’s good that people are following their own course more and
not conforming to what’s expected.
Simply put: it is paramount that older generations appreciate modern
lifestyle choices. “Marriage, for example, has different meanings to everyone and for
those who choose it; hopefully, it’s the right time for them where they’re
THE CONSTANT prepared for it. Online dating may have had an impact [on relationships] –
STRUGGLE FOR it certainly has opened up experiences for so many people to connect and
A LABEL, FOR meet others.”
A WORD THAT
SUMS YOU UP AS While the removal of these societal structures has proven advantageous
A PERSON; THESE for many young adults; for some, however, it can prove somewhat
ARE THE THINGS overwhelming.
THAT KEEP US
AWAKE AT NIGHT “[There is] less clarity in terms of cultural rules and norms to a point
that it can be easy to feel lost and uncertain, compared with 50 years ago
DEAN O’REILLY when life paths were more or less mapped out,” Chambers highlights.
2829 IRISH TATLER MAN As a result, the conversation regarding identity and labelling now
appears to be a pivotal aspect within the lives of millennials – defining
your ethnicity, sexuality, disability status, religion, family background or
Possibly lost at sea, the concept of identification and validation is the
most prevalent issue facing young men today, according to 16-year-old
“The constant struggle for a label, for a word that sums you up as a
person; these are the things that keep us awake at night,” O’Reilly reveals.
“These labels – that really mean nothing – affect everything we do. Be
it fearing being labelled something we don’t identify with, or be it a fear of
straying from the label you’ve already given yourself.”
I ENJOY USING
BUT I I HATE A
LOT OF ASPECTS
ABOUT IT TOO.
THERE IS LESS
CASE STUDIES: Eoin Corbett agrees, with particular reference to social media.
WHAT IS IT “Although there is certainly a huge amount of advantages to social
LIKE BEING A media, it’s definitely another pressure in our lives. Pressure to represent
MILLENIAL? ourselves in a certain light.
“There is less time spent actually meeting up with and talking to
EOIN CORBETT (20), FILMMAKER friends face-to-face. I enjoy using social media but I have to admit I hate a
lot of aspects about it too.”
“One of the first things that comes to mind is how many No conversation about identification can be had without recognising
opportunities we have these days. Almost anything is the dramatic metamorphous of the homestead. In a country that once
possible. It seems our parents really didn’t have as much of demanded its citizens conform to the long-established Catholic concept
a choice when it comes to things like careers. That is also of family; today, the architecture of the home and those who reside there
linked with the fact that so many more people are getting the is no longer homogenous.
opportunity to go to college nowadays. “Families are foster parents, lone parents, LGBT parents, blended
“Technology brings many advantages too. Contacting people, families – family is what it is to individuals,” Buckley says. “The key support
finding information, learning – all of these things are easier factors are having a good adult in those households who is supportive.”
now. Besides all of that, we’re living longer, which is obviously
a huge advantage.
“With technology and the internet, a lot of new problems
have arisen. These include cyber bullying and online
intimidation. There’s also a big problem with internet
addiction, as I found while making my documentary Internet
Addiction and Me a few years ago.
“Problems with finances, unemployment and emigration
still exist in much the same degree even if they’re in slightly
different forms. Mental health problems are still huge but
perhaps it is slightly easier for men to talk about how they
are feeling nowadays.”
↙ AARON MURPHY, 19, HEADSTRONG YOUTH
“I believe that I have grown up in a time of change. At the start of my
life when hard times hit, I was told: ‘Be brave, men don’t cry.’ But times
have since changed rapidly.
“I believe that we as men are closer than ever. It’s so easy to express
ourselves to other men in our lives whom we respect. We see so many
strong men in our lives and on social media expressing their emotions
that it makes it easier for us to speak to someone when we really need it.”
HUGH McCANN (17), REACHOUT MEMBER ↘
“The truth is that being a young man in Ireland in 2015 is the hardest it
has ever been. As people, we no longer care about what is on the inside;
instead, we focus on what labels we are wearing, how many likes our
Facebook profiles get, how many followers we have, how ‘on point’ our
hair is – the list goes on. This is because our world now mainly consists
of celebrities and social media – and those who don’t have the above,
get left behind.
“Yes, we have more opportunities and possibilities than the generation
before us, but I believe being a young man back in 1980 would be a lot
easier than 2015, because things were far more simple.”
However, Chambers concedes that the emergence of the modern taxing – hardly surprising, seeing as this era could easily be described as
family brings with it issues that can have a dramatic knock-on effect for Generation Me: where social media insists its users constantly upload
boys and young men growing into adulthood. representations of themselves and their opinions, whether it’s with the
help of tweets, Facebook statuses or Instragram pictures.
“With an increase in family break-up, there has been a rise in the male
father figure being removed from the family home – so the notion of “Maybe we are at a point where the challenge is not to get young men
strong male role models has been diminished, especially in certain urban to talk about personal issues, the challenge is in resourcing listeners,”
pockets of social deprivation where the rearing of children has become Chambers reveals.
the job of multiple generations of females,” he states.
“Young men are increasingly willing, and even likely, to open up and
What’s more, it’s been well documented that the age in which children discuss their feelings but when it comes to the role of listener or supporter
leave the nest has increased dramatically, largely on account of high rents of a friend who is going through a tough time, it can be hard to know what
and unattainable mortgages. to do,” he continues.
“Where you live is constantly in flux,” Buckley outlines. “Currently, there “It’s sometimes easier to hang out with people who are uncomplicated
are massive issues with the rental market and ballooning of rent prices. We and just want to have the craic rather than have to listen to someone’s tale
also are seeing more young people with elongated transitions from their of woe. If there was easier access to clear and engaging information on
family home – people are spending longer there as it’s harder to get out.” mental health and mental health support systems then this wouldn’t be
On the upside, thanks to the internet and social media, how people
communicate has also been revolutionised. While there is that much- With regards to the future, if 2015 was anything to go by, there is plenty
discussed dark, murky side to technology – from cyber bullying and viral to look forward to.
shaming to pornography and addictions – young men, in particular, are
more informed than ever, and the level of awareness in terms of health “Last year, social issues like the referendum for marriage equality had
issues, be they physical or mental, has dramatically improved since galvanised many young men around taking action politically and socially,
yesteryear. with movements like Straight Up for Equality really helping people to talk
and share stories,” Buckley outlines.
“What’s true is that young men now have more spaces and mediums
to use to communicate,” Buckley mentions. “Campaigns from the Gaelic “Ideally, you want groups of society to be informed, think critically and
Players Association and people like Bressie and Cycle Against Suicide are challenge others, and I definitely think young men do that today.
starting points for conversations.
“In areas like gender, sexism and inequality, it would be great to see
“[However, for these services to continue to be successful] they need them do even more in the years ahead.” ITM
to be designed with men in mind – reflective of how they speak more
informally, and often shoulder to shoulder, rather than face to face,”
“Men are getting better at seeking help, and we need to keep working
to create a society that supports this. Where reaching out is valued as
a sign of strength, where young men are listened to and not shamed. It
may be easier to talk but we still need to build resilience.”
Interestingly, it now seems that encouraging young men to talk is no
longer the crux of the problem; getting them to listen is what’s proving
3031 IRISH TATLER MAN