Sean Swaby reflects on how Google is redefining maleness.
Everyone knows Google. Google is the source of Gmail, and Google is also redefining what it means to be a man.
It used to be that men were men because of their tools, their sports or their cars. Google is giving the vast group of “other men,” the opportunity to be eMales. An eMale is a man who find a new identity in the electronic age… One not limited to their buzz saws, baseballs or the size of their biceps.
When I was in high school, I was the guy who was picked last. Even girls were picked before me. Thankfully I’ve had enough therapy that I can admit it in public. I was athletic and I could ski very well, but I was just not accustomed to team sports and my sport-specific skills were not developed.
But I could draw, and paint and that was my sanctuary. As an adult, I taught myself how to use a computer and now I have set up a blog and write for the Good Men Project. This is my path to becoming an eMale, yours may be unique. That is the thing: eMen are unique because of the many paths to manhood.
A few tests on the way to manhood
No matter your path, whether you find your way through sports, cars, biceps, creativity or through being tech savvy, there are several few things all men must face:
- Getting a drivers licence
- Being able to legally drink… and then figuring out how to drink responsibly
- Getting an email – the one thing needed to set your identity on the Wide Web of the World.
Surface details, surfing and manhood
The sad thing is that driving, drinking and surfing are merely surface details. Being a man is about character, doing hard things and finding yourself. It is about respect for yourself, for women and finding your way through it all. Powertools can help, but the most helpful of all of these is ironically, your gmail.
Getting connected, finding friends and discovering our community are probably the best thing you can do to figure out the male thing. I lost my father almost 20 years ago and I would love to ask him hard questions about raising a son, and raising two teenagers and how do you stay sane?
So I turn to my community… both in person and on line. In the community I have, I ask men how they do it, and most are like me: taking it as it comes, loving your kids, taking care of yourself, not letting work or money or booze get the best of you.
Which brings me back to my Gmail. Gmail is a great tool, but it can become an obsession. I know, I just got an iPhone 6 and I want to say, “Hello, my name is Sean and I am an iPhone junkie.” Our technology, just like our sports, our tools, or our biceps can become a way of avoiding all of the other stuff. I suppose that is when the path becomes a mountain.
But even that can teach you about being a man. Being a man is about learning who you are, learning from anything and anyone who can teach you, and most of all it is about claiming the power of being a human being – which means that we treat everyone humanely and with respect.
You are part of my tribe, my community. I am curious what is helping you navigate through what it means to be a man? If you have kids, how do you juggle it all and stay sane? I would love to hear your story in the comments.
I got through school okay. Art was my sanctuary… and it still is. No matter what your sanctuary, remember to regularly check in with your personal eMale… your crew. At the Good Men Project, we aim to be the best eMales we can be.
Previously published by smswaby
Photo by Stephen Bowler