In a recent video from Bjørn, he discussed his revelations from a recent book tour in the Netherlands and Germany, regarding the seemingly feminization of men in those places. Frankly, it seems that the more densely you pack us XY types, the more we shed our masculinity. The reasons he gives are numerous, but what really made me think is the combination of close proximity and the loss of self-determination.
Certainly, in the cities people are more generally clustered together, and as Bjørn points out, it becomes necessary to shrink one’s comfort zone. Literally, you just can’t maintain much of one at all, and what zone you do have is constantly breached. You simply can’t avoid it.
Also , you’ve got accept a much greater level of public scrutiny and adherence to ordinances, regulations, and laws that restrict not only one’s movements and actions on a personal basis, but also on how you interact with the rest of the city population.
These two factors mean that people are forced to accept breaches of their boundaries by their fellow citizens, with whom you often have no sense of trust, and cannot react well to avoid or mitigate those breaches. In short, you surrender your self-reliance to accept an existence within the city. Masculinity is suborned to allow these otherwise contradictory conditions to exist at the same time. It’s a real conundrum.
A man (or really even women, actually) can alleviate this loss of self-determination by doing things like camping and hiking to get away from the trundling masses. For some, that may be enough to calm the confusion of city life, and for some it may not be enough. It’s enough to keep me sane, but not as happy as I’d like. For me, I long to stride quiet country and keep to my own thoughts a lot more often than I currently do, and will have to get out of my own city existence someday.
For space exploration, it occurred to me that the mitigating factor in this puzzle comes down to trust. If we are going to set foot and settle space in the near term, even a city-like level of density will be luxurious compared to the cramped setting of somewhere like a moon base or long-term space station. I think the only way those sort of places have done well has been with the members of those micro-societies trusting each other deeply. Any other scenario breeds paranoia and paralyzed action.