On the “manosphere” or “Red Pill”

Someone wrote:

I’m a reader of your blog and enjoy your thoughts on a wide variety of things. I’ve gone in the deep end regarding the Red Pill, I just don’t know what to believe and I’m seriously doubting myself at this moment. I picked up a book called The Rational Male by Rollo Tomassi and while it has good stuff in it, I can’t shake the feeling that it treats women like objects and whores ready to move on to the next guy. My gut tells me that isn’t the case but I could be totally wrong. I guess I’m looking for a deep connection with another woman and in that denial phase with all this information. I was inspired by your articles “Getting good with women and how I’ve done almost everything in my life wrong,” thought you could have some answers. I’m lost and it all seems so insane, if this stuff is true.

I’ll observe a couple of things:

First, I wrote about some of the issues with the communities formed by guys who lose or aren’t succeeding with women in “The appeal of ‘pickup’ or ‘game’ or ‘The Redpill’ is a failure of education and socialization.” That’s a good place to start. My essay on Clarice Thorn’s underrated Confessions of a Pickup Artist Chaser is also good.

Second, note that almost anyone in the communities you’re referencing ends up in them because they’ve failed in sense. The people—and by people I mostly mean “guys”—who are succeeding or at least satisfied don’t find themselves there. Always keep that in mind when dealing with any conglomeration of people, especially when they come bearing extreme grievances. I’m not the first person to observe that the hardest core feminists and hardest core Red Pillers are more alike in tone and stridency than they’re like normal people who are otherwise curious.

Speaking of normal people, there are some readers and writers who are mostly intellectually interested in the matters discussed by the communities, or who are successful but curious about why they’re successful, but they’re the minority. Everyone else is there to work out their shit. Almost no one will acknowledge this, which is a bad sign. In many domains it’s a bad idea to take advice without knowing something of the person giving the advice, what their interests are, so and forth. Taking advice from a pseudonymous stranger on the Internet who knows nothing of you and your life, while you know nothing or them or there life, is… unwise. As Gildor says in The Fellowship of the Ring:

” ‘… The choice is yours: to go or wait.’ [Gildor said.]
‘And it is also said,’ answered Frodo, ‘Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes.’
‘Is it indeed?’ laughed Gildor. ‘Elves seldom give unguarded advice, for advice is a dangerous gift, even from the wise to the wise, and all courses may run ill. But what would you? You have not told me all concerning yourself; how should I choose better than you? But if you demand advice, I will for friendship’s sake give it.’ “

Gildor’s reluctance is the reluctance of wisdom.

Be wary of taking advice from anonymous strangers on the Internet with no stake in the outcome of the event itself (this includes taking advice from me, though I do at least use my real name). Some things in The Red Pill and the constellation of related sites are interesting and possibly true, but those things are dwarfed by nonsense and haters. Relying on it for life guidance is at best perilous. What’s the incentive for posting there? To win Internet points? Who cares? What kind of person compete for this? You don’t know anything about the real people posting. Some are probably decent enough people, but there’s probably a large proportion of keyboard jockeys and Internet losers. The Internet is a great place for anti-social people with no friends to find others like themselves.

In addition, if you’re unhappy with some aspect of your life, be aware that 90% of your effort should be spent doing things and interacting with people in the real world, and 10% or less should be spent online or reading people’s theories or whatever. Pretty much everything useful I’ve ever learned I’ve learned from doing things, and that’s true of most people.

I would count “writing” as “doing things,” for me, and the writing only works if it reflects things done. That goes back to the issue of who’s giving advice. Business leaders are too busy running companies to fuck around online. Athletes play and practice their sports at least 90% of the time. I’m a proponent of Starting Strength (in addition: “Everything You Know About Fitness Is a Lie“), and everything I’ve read in Starting Strength would be useless without the context of performing the lifts. When I was deadlifting I couldn’t figure out if I should hold my shoulder blades back. I read the deadlift section and learned the answer is “no.” Although I technically “read” that sentence before I started in earnest, I didn’t know enough to put it into practice until I’d been at it a while. Reading without practice is perilous in a way similar to how taking advice without knowing something of the advice giver is perilous.

Online communities adversely select for pontificators, because doers are out doing. There can of course be a balance between the two—as this blog demonstrates, I have a strong pontificator streak—but I like to think that I do a lot of things too, and those things inform the writing you see here.

Anyway, I read the Rollo Tomassi book, The Rational Male, and it’s interesting in places. But it’s also badly written, badly edited, and badly laid out (or at least the version I read suffered from all three). There’s probably a better book lurking in the book I read. But writing a good book, from the level of the individual word to the level of the book as a whole, is very hard, which is why so few people do it. Writing a good book is also poorly remunerated relative to other activities that take similar amounts of time and dedication. There are of course exceptions to the preceding sentence but on the whole the number of people with the skills and grit necessary to learn to write a good book are better financially served doing other things. Robertson Davies famously said that the only reason to write a novel is because you feel like you must, or go mad, or die. Few writers have that drive. Maybe Tomassi will. Or maybe he’ll remain overly dogmatic.

Beware dogma.

Finally, the people who really matter are the artists and the movers. Be one or the other or both. Talk to real people in real life. Get off the computer. The people on Reddit have no sense of art or beauty. The really important things aren’t happening there. They’re happening in the actual world, where most people aren’t ideologues. Diversity exists and matters—not in the politically correct sense of the term “diversity,” but the real sense. Ideas do matter but they matter most in art and science. If you aren’t taking an idea and spinning it into art, or science, or technology, or business, the idea doesn’t matter. How many angels dance on the head of a pin? For centuries theologians cared. No one does today. Choose what matters. There is some truth in the stuff you’re reading. But the whole story is bigger and broader than any of the reducers to celestial mechanics can imagine.

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