Welcome to a bright new future where real men are unassuming salad eaters
Today's male role models are all Silicon (Valley), writes Hans MacKenzie Main
A photo on record shows me half a metre high in a Knightrider T-shirt, my hair blow-dried to resemble a perm as closely as growing up in '80s SA would allow - all of which would suggest David Hasselhoff as a major influence in my formative years.
Sadly, my ego turned out misshapen in the Hoff's care, but, as a full-grown man I'm still impressionable and, at a time when the male ego is at its nadir, I'm looking to Silicon Valley for guidance.
The headquarters of the world's nerds is home to unassuming, timid and frail men. Men in possession of what I'd like to call the male ego 2.0, and propose as the ego to take our sex forward.
The exception here is Elon Musk, and let me deal with him swiftly and severely. No-one likes someone who names themselves after a smell and compensates with rockets. Elon with his electric cars - a faux petrolhead - and square jaw is not the man I'm looking to.
Rather, that man is a guy in the soft mould of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Dorsey is sticking it to the traditional man with questionable fashion, spearheading a lifestyle practically devoid of food. Recalling the times I was forced to eat an entire rack of ribs because "that's how men eat", fasting, or maybe just cutting down, seems like the way to go. Following Dorsey's example, ordering a salad - or, indeed, ordering nothing at all - might be the new true measure of manhood.
In a male-dominated world that values resilience, Dorsey's fragile frame suggests everything but. He wears hats (or beanies) indoors and graces TV studios dressed like an emo. You half-expect him to end the interview abruptly and lock himself in his room for the rest of the day, which is hardly the sort of thing that a man's man would do, and definitely something to aspire to.
The other male ego 2.0 I'd like to put forward is easy to miss. Mark Zuckerberg is a man under siege looking steadfastly ahead while making his way through throngs of journalists. His company is on the verge of collapse and he's widely blamed for the current failings of democracy. On the surface it seems not much can be taken from him, but look deeper.
The Zuck is an (overly) sensitive fellow and that's something to be celebrated. Google "Zuckerberg News" and you're presented with an ashen-faced man, his eyes downcast - lips pressed tightly together - with an expression that seems to admit guilt before guilt has even been assigned. It's a great look for the modern male; something worth practising in the mirror.
Current ego 1.0-in-chief Donald Trump recently invited Dorsey for a sit-down to discuss "the health of the public conversation" (though we can assume what took up most of the time was the health of @realDonaldTrump).
A picture shows Dorsey - a gold piercing through his nose, his hair in his eyes - sitting opposite Trump, the presidential desk between them. Trump has his little hand in the air doing his level best to assert authority. At first glance, the arrangement looks like a pupil getting it for, perhaps, working remotely at places that are not his desk (the hair and the piercing not helping his cause, at all).
Oh, but that is not the case. At a low enough blood sugar level, Dorsey could very well kick @realDonaldTrump off his platform - and therein lies the real triumph. The nerds have taken over the world and they're taking all of us with them to a bright new future where real men order salad, or nothing at all, and cry if they want to.
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