Right now, the number one post on my personal Reddit feed is this: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/9bryj8/straight_guys_of_reddit_whats_the_most_intimate/
Reading through this made me feel quite a few different emotions, but I would say that my biggest takeaway is disappointment.
I'm pretty young, being in my late twenties, but I know that the largest Reddit demographic is younger than me. And it terrifies me to see that people who are probably less than 15 years younger than me appear to be far more stricken by toxic masculinity than I was when I was their age. Right now the top response is a story about someone scratching his friend's back during a military deployment. He later mentions that his comrades gave him a hard time for it. Is the idea of machismo so fragile that we cannot take simple actions - even to provide relief to a friend?
I'll be the first to admit that a single AskReddit thread is not going to be an accurate representation of the levels of intimacy men actually give each other. But the simple fact that it's full of jokes, to me, makes it appear that they are using humor as a defense mechanism.
The fact that young men have so many barriers preventing them from building bonds with other men in a society often partitioned by gender deeply concerns me. I worry that this is the beginning of a societal issue in the same vein as racism was for our parents and grandparents and will only cause more problems as we age and gain political sway.
I'm bringing this up here because I would like some perspective on this. I've always been very sympathetic to other people, and my views as a gay man are obviously going to be different from straight men. Where is this toxicity coming from? Is there a way we can stop it, or is it already ingrained in the collective psyche?