If you observe popular culture over a long enough period of time, you will notice that people’s interest will come around to particular archetype characters that have existed since the dawn of time. Masculine or feminine, refined or rustic. The warrior. The goddess. Even the modern man.
The word “modern” is a funny word for me. It draws a line that distinguishes between now and some nondescript time in the past. It is used almost carelessly for all manner of things both animate and inanimate. Anyone trying to come up with a strict set of characteristics to define a modern this or that will be tempted to make any such set dependent on a certain point in time. But what if the subject is “a modern man”? Is it possible to come up with a template that aims for a general, overarching set of habits that adapt to whatever time period you choose?
I think a modern man sees a wider spectrum of what is possible and tries to look farther and wider than others. Although he is aware of what is occurring recently or will occur in the near future, he tries to look to the past for perspective and will strain to get a sense of what will occur in the future.
When I think of how I would define the term “modern man”, I see someone who refines himself throughout his life with all available resources. He is neither scared of, nor dependent on, current technology and is often more concerned with refining how and why he lives rather than focusing on day-to-day minutiae. Yes, he has tools that his predecessors didn’t but he recognizes that most of these things are just current equivalents of old tools or new tools that fix problems that don’t really exist.
So a true modern man isn’t bound by fads or what is happening now. The term “modern man” describes the quality of a man’s life, not how good-looking a mannequin he makes draped with this year’s fall collection.
I would argue that a true modern man is comfortable outdoors as well as in a bustling city. He recognizes the value of simple living and enjoys the intensity of spending time in the wilderness. For him, hearty meals cooked in cast iron over a fire sit side by side with memories of a night at a five-star restaurant.
Critical thinking is a skill that separates the modern man from others. While it is not the only way to discern hot air from well-honed thought, critical thinking is arguably the most important building block for observing the world around us. The ability to judge a situation with relative confidence is essential to living a purposeful, directed life. This past election season offered ample opportunity to practice critical thinking to anyone who cared to. How many people, including yourself, would you say took advantage of that learning moment to the best of their abilities?
Finally, modern man is aware of something bigger than himself. He can sense the weight of the years. He looks out into the night sky and feel small. He looks down at their baby in their arms a knows the awesome responsibility he bears.
Some people might argue that I’m describing a renaissance man but that’s not what I’m getting at. That’s someone with many skills or talents. And it’s not the guy from the Dos Equis commercials. The modern man avails himself of all resources from the past and present to gain a broader vision of the world around him and uses those resources to walk forward into the future, willingly accepting the responsibility of passing the baton on to the next modern man.