How did “make your bed” become a philosophical tenet? Why do young men need a guru to tell them this? Jordan Peterson has become a father figure to what I snarkily call the “lost boys,” espousing generally fine ideas of personal responsibility and maturity. Make your bed, clean your room, are among them.
You need to be told this?*
For the most part, Peterson’s advice is banal. Not wrong, necessarily, but banal. And as a result, he’s gained a significant and loyal following. On the one hand, it’s good that someone is telling young men to grow up, put away their childish toys and do big boy things like make their bed. I have no particularly issue with Jordan Peterson’s advice here. And as the insipid will respond if you question anything about Peterson’s fans, why undermine someone giving young men positive advice?
Dear Lost Boys,
Grow the fuck up. If you need Jordan Peterson to tell you this, there may be no hope for you.
— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) May 20, 2018
While most people got the message, there are invariably going to be dolts who either can’t read or can’t grasp the point. If this is reminiscent of the reaction of SJWs to any challenge to their ideology, that’s because it’s no different. Dogmatic people gonna dogmatic. The breadth of ignorance on the twitters makes stupid responses inevitable, and the demands of antagonistic narcissists go beyond the amount of effort and attention I’m inclined to allow.
But the bottom line question is why young men need to be told to clean their rooms. Why they need a guru to tell them to do so. What has happened to young people, as this is just the male side of the equation, with the female side absorbed in its own childish ideology, that they fail to grow up sufficiently on their own to perform the mundane tasks of maturation?
The most common response is that the boys in need of Peterson’s advice are fatherless. After all, the divorce rate hovers around 50%, certainly far higher than in earlier generations. It’s not a particularly convincing argument in a vacuum, as fathers don’t disappear in divorce. They’re still around, even if not living with their children because the Patriarchy, and their duty to provide fatherly guidance doesn’t change.
But that’s the least of it. In the last century, we’ve been through a number of wars from which fathers didn’t return. World War I, II, Korea, Vietnam. Many died leaving their sons behind, fatherless. Yet, their sons managed to grow up despite never having a guru to tell them to make their bed.
Then there is the helicopter parent explanation, that this generation of parents, or mothers if we’re still talking about the divorce rate, maintain such a level of micromanagement over their children that they never have to make their bed. Leave it alone and mommy will do it for you, and thus there’s no reason to give it a second thought.
This is certainly a deeply counterproductive phenomenon, even if helicopter parents just can’t bear to have expectations of their beloved little darling, but still fails to explain why the kids, even without anyone providing instructions, don’t have a desire to grow up, take control of their lives and, well, make their bed.
As a teenager, the thing I wanted to do more than anything was get the hell out of Dodge. I left home at 17 and never returned. There was never a thought of wanting to perpetuate my adolescence as long as possible. I wanted to be on my own. Everyone I knew wanted to be on their own. Everyone wanted to grow up.
No one asked permission. No one needed anyone to tell them how to do it. And despite the fantasy understanding of how things were back then, our parents had very little to do with our lives. The idea of my mother driving me to school was laughable. Our discussion was largely limited to “go outside and play and be home by dinner,” which was a TV dinner if I was lucky.
My father loves to tell the story of his return from World War II. On his first day home, his parents made him a celebratory dinner. On the morning of the second day, his father woke him up early, disassembled his bed and threw it out on the front lawn. He then told him it was time to start his life. And he did. Granted, that couldn’t happen today, but the idea was that there was no life advice given beyond “grow up.” Somehow, he managed.
Yet, the lost boys vehemently insist that they need Jordan Peterson, or someone like him, to tell them to make their bed or they could never figure it out on their own. I reiterate, this isn’t a slam on either Peterson or the advice he offers. Nor is it a denunciation of his fanboys for appreciating his advice, even though some aren’t the sharpest knives in the draw.
Rather, this poses the question of how putatively sentient human beings can’t figure out, on their own, that they need to grow up, to make their bed? This isn’t hard stuff, or is it? Has the utterly banal become too difficult to fathom for young men today?
Having given plenty of space to the damage pseudo-feminism has done to young women, the absurdity of some boy arguing the requisite virtue of a guru to provide them with a roadmap to basic maturity needs to be confronted. I am glad you have a guru, a Jordan Peterson, to tell you to make your bed, because it is horrifying that you wouldn’t without being so instructed.
But at the same time, I am trying to maintain sufficient faith in male humanity to believe that you have the capacity to figure this out on your own, without a guru explaining it to you. Humanity has managed to survive for a long time without a 12-step program for growing up.
Have we now reached that point where the lost boys can’t possibly manage without it? If there is no dad, there was no Jordan Peterson, to tell you to zip up your fly or wipe your tushy, would you not know what to do? Lost boys, do you really need to be told to make your bed?
*There are, of course, higher order aspects to maturity for which instruction is warranted. Which fork to use, for example. But this is about the most fundamental, most obvious, least sophisticated of notions. Clean your room. Make your bed. This is not higher order stuff.