Thursday, 15 May 2014

Self-Improvement Has Consequences

“Know thyself” said Socrates, “and lift weights” adds every Manosphere guru. Confidence and self-knowledge are supposed to be attractive to women, who like men who know what they want from life.

Well, it’s messier than that.

What does a well-brought up young man with a STEM degree, an in-built desire to make sense of the world, a strong work ethic and a quart of mind-bending testosterone in his bloodstream do?

(i) He takes an inventory of himself, his ambitions and resources
(ii) But first, he needs to know what works and what doesn’t to achieve his ambitions
(iii) Then he drops the stuff that doesn’t fit, or makes specific plans to fill the gaps

The catch, of course, is the second one. As I’ve argued before, as soon as other people’s decisions are involved, the process becomes random. Investors look for different opportunities and take different risks; employers choose as much on “cultural fit” as they do on observable qualities; your placing in a race depends on how fast your competitors run as well; and as for cinema audiences? Who knows?

However, our young man has plenty to do just fixing his obvious weaknesses. It might not work every time, but it sure improves the odds, and lets him go in with more confidence. And that confidence can be off-putting.

Shrews are looking for a man they can wear down; parasites are looking for a man who will support them without making demands; users are looking for a man they can manage; low-libido girls are looking for low-libido boys… so when a confused young man decides he’s going to stop being confused, set and enforce his boundaries, call people out on their BS and be swift kicking the users and abusers to the kerb, he is going to get through a lot of people at the start, before he learns to spot them out of the corner of his eye and treat them like traffic. His self-improvement opens his eyes to the fog, chaos, flaws and complacency of the people around him. Women who may have seemed acceptable for a relationship now become suitable, if at all, for a short-term sexual fling. And they can see it in his eyes.

This isn’t just about women, but also employers. Abusers hire unpaid interns and use zero-hours contracts; pay under the market rate wages for over the market rate hours; demand weekends and overtime at short notice; and lay off staff at the slightest pretext. Parasites don’t make it easy for their staff to develop their marketable skills, and sometimes subtract value from them. A young man with some self-respect and skills will soon learn to speak Recruitment and recognise which firms he is and is not prepared to work for, and which ones will reject him the moment he walks through the door, because something in his manner says “Not a Victim”.

Raise your standards, and you shrink your supply. In an responsive consumer market, some suppliers will raise their standards and prices to meet the demand from that niche. But people aren’t responsive suppliers. You see men in the gyms, but not women. You see employees getting skills, but employers are reluctant to upgrade their software and equipment.

Raise your standards and the competition gets tougher. Our self-improving young man is competing with all the men who weren’t as confused, and all the men whose degree of confusion is less important that their superior resources. There aren’t enough good clients, jobs in the Top Fifty Firms To Work For, hot women or supportive investors to go round. Nor, we should mention, are there enough cool centrally-located apartments, restaurants, cafes, holidays, or anything else of quality.

In the meantime, a man gotta eat, gotta rest his head someplace, and what a long period of incel does to anyone is not a pretty sight. Our young man has to learn to separate the mediocre world with which he has to do in his daily life, from his own life and ambitions, and to dip into it when he needs money, or sex, or even food (sometimes Pizza Express is all there is), but not to stay any longer than he needs.

So, sure, the upsides in his life have been made harder to get, but he has reduced the downsides by orders of magnitude. Something else has happened.

A world that once seemed full of possibilities is gradually changed to a world full of flawed people who seem inexplicably ignorant or tolerant of their flaws, and who, while he may work with them, he would never socialise with them. He sees the weakness or arrogance in the men, and the entitlement and delusion in the women. He knows he is not perfect, and that others may see him as a nerd who doesn’t quite fit into the regular world, but he doesn’t care about that. The regular world now seems to him a slack place, full of mediocrity and compromise, with which he engages only when there is no alternative. There are good people in it, but it’s too chaotic, too messy, too unaware of itself.

In the Manosphere, this is called “Red Pill Isolation”, but it’s a much more general phenomenon. Young men and women coming out of the Armed Forces regard their civilian counterparts as slovenly, disorganised and under-motivated. Those of us with toned bodies look upon the softies as, well, a bit slack. Self-discipline and increased self-understanding, the urge to create a coherent person of ourselves, separates us from the majority. After a few years at it, I really do feel like I’m walking through a world of ghosts.

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