This mass exodus of twelve-year-old boys into the priesthood created bad priesthood. As my peers and I progressed through the ranks of the Aaronic Priesthood, we developed into actors of varying skill whose true beliefs and behaviors had varying levels of alignment with the official church image. I wasn't technically worthy from the beginning, a fact which I managed to hide very well for a very long time. I believed in the church but I didn't really have anything invested in it besides culture and family.
Looking around at my friends, I could tell that most of them had just as little invested in the church, and many didn't really believe or care at all. There were some that believed and probably lived up to the expectations of the church, but I think more than half of us were in the Priesthood mostly to avoid appearing different or defective. We hid our doubts and our sins and played along.
One (of the many) problems with this was that when it came time for us to, as a Priesthood Quorum, do something important, we usually fell flat. Once my Priest Quorum went to visit a less active priest to try and fellowship him so that he would come back to church. In the Mormon mindset, this is a super-important mission: save the soul who has strayed! But we visited him and failed miserably. The oldest of us was suitably engaged in the objective, but his social skills were poor and he didn't relate well to the kid we were trying to fellowship. Then there was me, who also really wanted to help, but I was shy, awkward, and uncomfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings, and I didn't contribute much. Then there were the other two who were hiding their unbelief but who abandoned their feigned belief in the awkward, uncomfortable house. They remained mostly quiet and completely unhelpful.
Not surprisingly, in our efforts to reactivate our priesthood brother, we were a collective failure. I don't know how much else could have been expected when the priesthood is composed of adolescents whose main goal is to be accepted instead of ostracized. Many of us were goaded into the priesthood by societal pressure and our actions as priesthood holders were governed by our understanding of how much we had to do to maintain the appearance of piety. That doesn't seem like an effective way to run a church.
And that doesn't seem right to me.