Humanity has spent an eternity asking themselves several questions, over and over. “Why are we here?” “What’s the meaning of life?” “What’s love got to do with it?” And plenty of times I would mull over these same questions with my friends after a couple of drinks more than was recommended. Yet one question would constantly come up from, done mostly from our female friends and a few times from some male friends;
“Why are some guys such jerks?”
To be honest, “jerk” isn’t exactly the word used, but I would rather use it to keep the swearing to a minimum. Is this question a broad generalization? Absolutely. Is it true? Absolutely. Yet when this question is asked to most guys, they either get defensive, stating that women are no better, or they do some song and dance to avoid the topic, generally agreeing with it and trying to change the subject to avoid getting trapped in such a dangerous terrain.
But why ARE some guys such “jerks”? Taking into account the broad generalization and simplification of this question, I wanted to establish also some kind of general and simple answer. And the more I thought about it, the more things became clear. Why are some guys jerks? Because we teach them to be like that.
I am not saying that a person isn’t responsible for their actions simply because of their environment. Quite the contrary, evident by the simple fact that not ALL guys are jerks, something doubted by any lady going through a bad breakup. But if we refuse to view what makes a jerk, without understanding what goes on for them to be the way they are, we have no way to either help or probably avoid jerks.
As much as we want to deny it, we live in a society that prizes success and ridicules failure. That mentality is extended to every single aspect within a man’s life, as we tend to turn anything into a “pissing contest”. We have to be either No. 1 or blame someone as to why we are not. We see this as we fanatically defend everything we relate with as “the best.” We do the best work; it’s just that our boss doesn’t see it. We are the best husbands/boyfriends; it’s just that our significant other doesn’t see it. And the list goes on endlessly.
The counterpart to this is even more dangerous. "I’m right simply because YOU are wrong." "It’s not that I am better, but that everyone else is worse than me." We then spend more energy putting people down simply to make ourselves look better.
And even when we agree with each other, for example, the team I follow or the country I’m from or the artist I like is the best, now I have to prove that I am a bigger fan than you. And this starts to breed a sort of blind fanatism as we can’t be proven wrong. Doing so would shatter our confidence and our self-worth.
People assume that guys act the way they do to show off to their friends, to get “guy approval.” I can tell you right now, that’s not why. And any social campaign based on this concept is doomed to fail. We want to show we are better than other guys, or willing to do what other guys won’t do, not to impress the rest of the guys, but rather to remind us how much better we are. It is a way to self-validate and find self-worth.
But why? Because while we teach guys to go after success, to fight everyone around them for dominance, we forget to teach them self-worth. Their worth is only as good as their last success. Their value lessens with every failure. And this is not in the eyes of society, but in their own eyes.
This is why so many guys take few risks becoming vulnerable within relationships, placing the interests of others above their own, or simply be willing to try something new. The need to ridicule and put others down is based on the fact that it’s easier than to risk failure in your own eyes. And understand that the fear of failure in their own eyes is always greater than the fear of failure in anyone else’s eyes.
So how can we go past this general social programing? We as men need to understand and accept our self-worth. We need to understand that failing and getting hurt doesn’t lessen our value as men or as persons. We need to teach this to our sons and our bothers. We need to step away from placing in a pedestal the superficial worth, one that prices a man based on his clothing, or his car, or his job, and start looking at his true worth as a person of character and virtue. We need to accept our worth and how to raise our value. Only then can our success speak for itself. Only then can we see the worth and value in others.