Where have all the men gone?

The other morning I was doing my usual – get the kid ready for school, make coffee, make some phone calls, sit down in front of my PC do some social networking… Then it all hit me!

Where are the men? What happened there?

You might be wondering what I am talking about. Well, let me explain. It’s the 21st century, the year is 2012, the planet is Earth and the country is the United Kingdom. Historically I have never had less time with my ‘meat and bone’ friends; however I have never had so many ‘friends’ – the on-line ones.

Daily I appear to be mingling with all sorts of women, older than me, younger than me, more successful than me, less successful than and so on. There are ‘Business Women of this’ and ‘Business Mums of That’, there are ‘Women’s Networking of this ‘ and ‘Networking of that’, there are Greek Goddesses and Egyptian Goddesses of this business and or that business. In another words there is a sea of women wanting to succeed and make money. Now, one side of me is rejoicing in this ‘new status’ of female independence and roaring success. The other side of me is wondering has something gone wrong? Just a bit OTT?

Looking at the networking success among women one can’t but notice this must be partly because women are networkers by nature. I am sure our grand grandmother the cave woman knew all the gossip from the next cave as she networked with all the women she ever met. But she did this to support life and herself! She did this as she felt ‘feel good hormones’ as she spent time with other women and their children. She did this small talk while feeding, or cooking or gathering. She balanced her hormones while doing this and apparently produced a lot of endorphins while doing so. The physical presence of other friendly women did this -the science tells us so (not that I need the approval of some laboratory rat to confirm how I feel while chatting with my girlfriends).

I remember we used to do this. Not long ago in the last century (this does make me sound as old as the above-mentioned dear cave woman) we used to meet up with our friends for a chat and a coffee. We used to call each other when things went wrong, when we got into some kind of trouble, when something amazing happened or when we had arguments with our boyfriends. Now it all brings me to another question – Where have all the men gone? From our conversations that is. No more romance in our interaction. The men don’t seem to exist in this new female world of business ventures, special offers, one day offers, networking groups, ‘entrepreneuring’ etc. The sisterhood has gone mad for business! In the light of the above endorphin anecdote I wonder is this healthy or even normal for a woman? Ignoring my own super ambition I must admit I am not at all sure this is enough.

The picture presented of the modern woman is of the Domestic Goddess with a huge brood of perfect kids, with a perfect house, perfectly well-groomed, super fit , perfectly proportioned and well-dressed body and of course a very successful business of her own. To add to the almighty picture she is strong, powerful, self-sufficient, super resourceful, business savvy and with what appears to be a large pair of elbows. She is strong and she is elbowing through a mass of other just as larger-than-life female characters fearlessly. She has no vulnerable side (this bit has now been left for men apparently who are nowhere to be seen or heard), she is clever and always emotionally well balanced to the point she does not even have to talk about it any more (or anyone else for that matter God forbid!).

It appears, no-one is talking about their feelings (not unless it is a part of some kind of a trendy workshop run by another well qualified Domestic & Business Goddess), not even to their meat and bone friends who have now became their Facebook friends.

There seems to be a culture of ‘living on line’ where people post updates every time they go to the toilet. I’ve noticed lately people can’t even relax and eat in a restaurant without photographing and posting each course on line! (Hmmm, lovely main course. Can’t eat this before picturing it. How lovely. People must see this. Look at me.) Do I really want to know this? Or should I photograph the content of my fridge and post each time I buy some fabulous food? (Wait till you see my cabbages next week!) Do I need to reassure myself I am indeed experiencing my own life by forcing other people to look at it (and hopefully be envious of me. Ha!(evil grin))

And further of course there is the dreaded competition – ‘who has more fab pics on the internet?’that one! The other day I read quite a disturbing report of people being seriously depressed because they felt they had no life – compared to their friends on-line. All their friends posted fabulous pictures of themselves doing fun stuff while the persons in question felt they had nothing as good to post. This is their friends I am talking about! This is how our real friendships have changed into Facebook friendships – competitive, noisy and well… show off! It seem as if people feel they have to be super happy , super cool and super entertained with an equally amazing number of other super cool people and they would do anything to present themselves as that to others on line. The others are what used to be their real friends who used to see them in tears, in their pyjamas or drunk, or just plain down at times??? It’s a bit crazy really. No?

And then there is networking, the buzz word in the 21st Century Women’s World. The fabulous networking. The way to get out there and be heard. In fact so many people are trying to get heard no one can tell who is saying what from the unbearable noise! And so I hear ‘the noise’ has now become quite a respectable marketing term, meaning from what I gather ‘shout louder than the others’ or something of that ilk. Now I think (for what it’s worth) if you are shouting among shouters no one is listening. Now be honest, of the millions of inbox messages you get from this Networking group and Those Business Mums how many do you actually read? Be honest. Or do you just simply delete them without even opening them as you would with any other spam?

It is a bit like ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ isn’t it? Everyone knows the truth but none dare to say anything. Because everyone is at it! So who dares to be so uncool and say it is all a bit of a hassle really? At the end of the day everyone is thinking: What’s in it for me? No?

Well, there I’ve said it. Does this mean I am going to ostracised from the networking world and be shunned for the rest of my cyber life? I shudder at the thought and nevertheless I decide I don’t really care. I am off to make another cup of coffee and call my real friends for a chat.

(And so I did. After speaking to three answerphones, I decide to be super bloody minded and knock on doors. I am going to get some real endorphins for myself here and get some real ‘you-can-touch-them’ women presence even if they ‘status me’ as a stalker! I can remember how to be vulnerable – no problem. I can complain. Life is not perfect surely? Not that I’ve seen him today, but I am sure I can find something wrong with my man to complain about ad hoc. There has to be. Anyway I am sure he will do something wrong this evening while I am out with my real friends. That will do! Friend number one is plainly not at home, no cars, no answer at the door, the friend number two is at work which I forgot until I knocked on the door and the third has just gone to drop off her kid to Brownies. Finally I cave in go home and log into Facebook only to find out that friend number one is just down the road in a pub-according to her status! Bugger, if I’d only checked Facebook first…)

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