The Masculinity of a Generation
Lost to a False Reality

Steven Frederickson lives with his parents in the District. In his basement bedroom, he is the perpetual hero. Every night, he leads a clan of wizards into epic battles, he slaughters scores of Nazis, and he lives out a few sexual fantasies. The hope and thrills of the college experience have faded away—he never received the dream job he felt promised. Instead, he burns through his weekdays working at an IT help desk. And like most of his peers, Steven painstakingly maintains the most impressive social media image that he can manage, hoping that he will entice the opposite sex.

One day, the spark of an idea is placed in Steven’s mind: Change. He plays poker in southeast DC with Thomas Pensare, an arrogant scientist he had met in college. Thomas challenges Steven to think deeply about life’s true meaning. These fresh ideas invigorate him for a time, but he’s drawn back down to the rigged victories of screen and controller. He meets a beautiful, young woman named Anne. She’s a psychology student at George Washington University, and Steven feels completely intoxicated in her presence. Yet, the gratification of pornography is equally alluring, tugging him back to the realm of the virtual. While he fights these battles in the foreground, the flame for change is fanned in the background, driving him toward an inescapable metamorphosis.

FitzGerald cuts through the life of the modern American man, revealing a complex and fascinating cross section. Most young men will quickly recognize Steven’s thoughts and feelings, but few will ever walk down the path that Steven ultimately chooses.

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