Bad Boys

friend zone
We’re just friends.

Today we have a guest post by Twitter user @Pharmaheretic on the animal nature of the ‘nice guy’.

The view that ‘bad boys’ are significantly more attractive to women than ‘nice guys’ has become pervasive enough to be now considered mainstream. One could even go so far as to say that it is the dominant view in younger age-groups. As many of you also know, a lot of ink and electrons have been spent on trying to understand why women prefer ‘bad boys’ over ‘nice guys’.

Some have tried to explain this phenomenon by invoking deterministic scientific-sounding concepts such as “evolutionary psychology” and “hyper-gamy”. Others see it is an outcome of some vaguely defined “moral failings” inherent in secular societies, the tertiary effects of feminism or a lack of long-term planning. In my opinion, all such explanations are ex post facto rationalizations rather than objective explanations. Moreover, they almost willingly ignore or gloss over a very important question.

Why should women prefer ‘nice guys’ over ‘bad boys’?

The conventional reasoning for ‘nice guys’ being better than ‘bad boys’ in the long-term usually centers around the first group being supposedly better providers than the latter one. Somehow that is supposed to translate into “better reproductive success”. But how does that reasoning play out in the real world?

Let us, for a moment, hypothesize that humans are mindless and deterministic machines devoted to reproducing themselves like bacteria, worms, or wolves. What would a world where that hypothesis is correct look like? Is there a correlation between the number of children people have versus their ability to provide for them? Do you see billionaires having hundreds and thousands of children? What about upper-middle class types? How many have a dozen kids?

Now some of you might say.. “it is not just about how many kids a couple has, it is also about whether you can provide them a good upbringing and life”. OK, so how much money and resources does it take to raise a child properly? And when do you reach the point where extra money does not improve things any further? As far as the world we live in today is concerned, there is no real gain from spending more money and resources than that spent on raising an average upper-middle class child. Beyond that point, spending extra money does not reliably improve outcomes to a worthwhile degree. In fact, for most purposes the biological viability of a child born to working class parents in developed countries (other than the USA) is statistically identical to one with billionaire parents.

So why aren’t billionaires pumping out kids by the dozens? What about upper-middle class professional couples? Why aren’t they having one dozen kids each?

The answer to this apparent paradox has two major components. Firstly, human beings are not mindless machines devoted to reproducing themselves. Secondly, having kids usually diminishes the general quality of life for their parents. Furthermore, having kids no longer guarantees social contact, assistance, or care in your later years.

Consequently, it is no surprise that human beings today are just not into having kids. The ‘nice guy’ strategy of being a “better provider” worked as long as having children was a net positive. Once having children became profitless and optional, women simply did not need the spineless stable provider-type.

I can almost hear some of you say “OK, that could explain why women don’t care for ‘nice guys’ anymore. But why do they detest them? Alternatively, what makes ‘bad boys’ attractive? The conventional answer to this question is that ‘bad boys’ are attractive because they are more popular, dominant, rebellious, mysterious etc. But is that really the case?

The belief that ‘bad boys’ are attractive because they exhibit some desirable characteristic is widespread, and it can explain why certain highly successful and visible types (such as famous entertainers, sportsmen, musicians) get tons of pussy. But how do you explain women lusting after barely known musicians, low-level drug dealers, semi-functional alcoholics, and others who are considered “failures”. What makes women prefer such apparently “failed” men over “conventionally successful” guys?

My answer to this apparent paradox is as tasteless as it is unconventional: willing slaves inspire disgust and contempt, not lust and passion.

The vast majority of jobs throughout human history have always been based on voluntary slavery. Indeed, there is a direct correlation between the willingness of slaves to humiliate and debase themselves and their compensation.

Consider for a moment the idea that the long educational requirements and probationary periods for conventionally high-income occupations such as physicians, scientists, lawyers, architects, and engineers are about selecting especially spineless and willing slaves rather than perpetuating meritocracy or ensuring competence.

What kind of person would end up in such conventionally well-paid careers? Also, wouldn’t such a servile mindset spill over into their personal lives?

What are the chances that a person with any significant level of self-respect, ability for independent thought, or autonomous agency would end up in a well-paid and “socially-acceptable” occupation? ‘Nice guys’, both established and aspiring, have more in common with well-trained dogs than human beings as far as women are concerned. They can jump through many obstacle courses, learn amazing new tricks, and be loyal companions. But at the end of the day they are just that: dogs who serve others for meager rewards.

In contrast to that, ‘bad boys’ are in it for themselves even if they are not especially successful. They possess autonomous agency, something that ‘nice guys’ lack. While women may not explicitly think in those terms, it is pretty obvious to them that they see ‘nice guys’ as whimpering voluntary slaves. Wouldn’t you if you were in their position?

Sure, such ‘nice guys’ can often make decent money and provide a decent lifestyle to the woman they are with. But is it possible for that woman to continuously overlook the fact that she is with an easily manipulated, servile, and spineless human being?

Malthusian Trap

Das My Baby.

Today we have a special guest essay from Twitter user @mrmarfanman on the horrors of 21st century employment.

“Has anyone here done a group interview?”

I’ve been enrolled in some youth job employment program that trains fresh-faced, nubile men and women for our future lifelong careers in their various affiliated multinationals. “One of the requirements a prospective employee must fulfill before being assigned a workplace involves completing a series of interview and employment preparation workshops.” We must be taught how to dance like monkeys for our overlords so they allow us to burn our retinas in front of Microsoft Excel™ for 50 hours a week. How else can we purchase Netflix subscriptions, Apple devices, fancy Adidas shoes and tickets to the 9th Star Wars movie? We’d join our fathers’ small businesses, but all of our dads have become suicidal telemarketers at major pharmaceutical companies that primarily fund studies about the benefits of nationwide state-enforced SSRI prescriptions for all college-aged males.

The woman who’s been tasked with putting us on the 9-to-5 conveyor belt has prepared a wonderful slide presentation to help her inculcation. She’s hunched over and paces nervously across the office carpet while she dispenses her vocational wisdoms in a scared, quiet voice. Her speech is peppered in “um”s and “yeah”s, even though she must’ve spent 2 hours beforehand reciting her PowerPoint™ doctrine to herself in between deep breaths her psychiatrist has asked her to do to help with the anxiety. She squirrels off to a corner every time a diligent little hamster from the audience is eager enough to take a picture of one of her slides. “Sorry, I just look so bad in pictures, like, yeah, haha.”

Ms. Mouse and her ilk were shoved in lockers in high school and routinely ignored at parties in college. Now they’ve developed technology to help them inherit the Earth in retaliation. Millions of hunched over, quiet Silicon Valley bugmen spend their lives developing PowerPoint to coddle the inherently poor leadership and social skills of millions of hunched over, quiet middle managers like Ms. Mouse. With this corporate aid, these middlemen can effectively enact their revenge by enslaving millions of their high school bullies to spending their lives in Excel.

The sexual marketplace used to be the one area where the nerds have failed to violently redeem their youths. So they’ve funded the development of natural language processing AIs and life-like sexbots that acquiesce to any romantic or erotic demands. In the meantime, they have dating apps that reduce attraction to the sole determination of some proprietary algorithm that they’ve developed. So on and so forth. Software is eating the world. Soon, they’ll use CRISPR to built augmented hyper-nerds, optimized for high APM play during League of Legends and maximally productive pair coding. There will be no escape from the boundless, pent-up rage of that kid from school who had braces until 19 and played Magic: the Gathering and now brags about being a project manager for Gmail.

“You know, like an interview where you’re basically, um, being interviewed with other people? … No? Well, it’s getting kinda more popular. It helps speed up the whole process. I’ve got some great tips for that kinda interview.”

In a group interview, when your interviewer unbuckles his pants, claw at the other interviewees’ eyes so you get the first chance at taking his facial. Remember, the wider you smile when he cums, the better your odds are of getting the job. In a fishbowl interview, where you’re up against multiple interviewers, you will seem more passionate if you request the bukkake first. Remember to show up 15 minutes early to your interview; spend the time practicing your blowjob and submissive dirty talk skills. You never know when an interviewer might throw you a curveball, so do an enema the night before and bring KY jelly just in case. Employers value a disciplined and orderly self-starter, so make sure to play with their balls and nipples. Remember, if you want to climb the corporate ladder, you have to be efficient, passionate, and hard-working. The fastest hamsters get the biggest wheels. Valuable advice that eager, jolly drone bees jot down in their Notes apps.

Once you get your job, learn how to dress well for it, but not so well that you would potentially embarrass someone at a higher caste level. Remember to be a jolly drone and network with your peers. Smile and talk about the weather and how much you love being chained at the ankles to those flexible, comfortable $700 bootleg Aeron chairs. Be respectful to your boss. She will most likely be a radfem lesbian from Smith College hired to fill diversity quotas, clip-clopping up and down the aisle in her 6-inch heels with her proudly hairy legs. Her proud contributions to the company include a grassroots program to teach African refugees how to code JavaScript, as well as a propensity for hiring other womyn that had 2.1 GPAs in their Drama majors. You’ll soon learn from your new coworkers that ‘being a free spirit and discovering who you are’ essentially boils down to using their parents’ money for yearly visits to Buddhist shamans in Shanghai and capitulating to the demands of fratboys who DM them over Instagram for nudes. Remember not to look at their meaningless tattoos for too long or PandoDaily will write an article about toxic sexual harassment in the tech workplace. It won’t matter, anyways, because soon you’ll be fired for performing poorly on the Implicit Association Test. Buzzfeed will write an article about it and you’ll be blacklisted from every company in the in the Western hemisphere.

As Ms. Mouse droned on, my eyes glazed over to the pasty Oriental peer a couple of seats away from me, no older than 19. He was chugging from a bottle of Soylent® 2.0 and absentmindedly scrolling through /r/LateStageCapitalism. I could tell his entire daily routine just by looking into his tired, dark, baggy eyes. He wakes up miserably at 10:30 AM after a long night of watching Hearthstone streams on Twitch until 4 AM. Then, he walks into his iOS development class 25 minutes late. He tries to make up for it with some class participation and asks his professor how the latest Apple devices can be used to Make The World A Better Place™. He learns that they can be an indispensable aid in the effort to dramatically increase estrogen levels in municipal water supplies and reads a relevant article from HackerNews. Despite earning miserable grades, he won’t ever consider switching out of a STEM major because he needs to feel superior about his perceived workload. He spends time on Facebook ceaselessly bragging about how bright his career prospects are, blissfully unaware that similarly talented H1-Bs will work for half his expected wage. He’ll find out about them when they start protesting for the right to openly defecate on Palo Alto streets. He goes to his dorm and plays Overwatch for 3 hours, remembering to take regular breaks to vape and watch hardcore porn. Finally, he finishes off the night by watching Hearthstone streams on Twitch until 4 AM. Rinse and fucking repeat.

The ideal man. All miserable bugmen, chasing miserably improbable goals promised to them by psychiatrically deluded baby boomer CEOs spouting platitudes at TED talks, waiting until the day they’re offered sweet, sweet release from the mind-numbing monotony of their cultural Marxism.

“So, is anybody here excited for their new jobs?”

Pretty To Think So

Lost Generation
A Clean Well-Lighted Place.

Today we have a special guest essay from Twitter user @MAGAMan8 on the striking similarities between the Lost Generation and the millennial generation.

In his 2010 book Ill Fares the Land, the late historian Tony Judt laments the fate of the “millennial” generation, burdened with debt, war, and vanishing opportunities beyond short-term desultory labor. Here, Judt makes a striking comparison- or striking enough that I jotted it down:

The last time a cohort of young people expressed comparable frustration at the emptiness of their lives and the dispiriting purposelessness of their world was in the 1920s. It is not by chance that historians speak of a “lost generation.”

In one sense, it is though. The “lost generation” moniker was possibly in some limited currency when Ernest Hemingway put it down as an epigraph in The Sun Also Rises and emblazoned the term on the 1920s. As every student knows, Hemingway was quoting Gertrude Stein, his then-mentor and the “mountain of the Left Bank,” when she said “all of you young people who served in the war. You’re a lost generation.” Stein, in turn, was likely quoting a French garage mechanic’s lament that it was impossible to find young French workers after the Great War. Stein and Hemingway, however, saw it as a perfect description of the young Americans they watched aimlessly floating around Paris after the end of the First World War, getting drunk and pissing away their abilities without anything solid and substantial in which they might invest them.

My great grandfather knew a guy by the name of Guy Hickok who was there as well, writing for the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and spending his lunches and afternoons in the Eagle office talking with “Hem,” the younger journalist, about the art of writing. Guy, too, was struck by these ex-servicemen, who seemed to be decommissioned from all of civilized life. He wrote numerous articles about how many of them wound up in Europe, without housing, enjoying the lack of Prohibition, and eventually landing in French prisons. His mother, Clara, in fact, was dubbed the “angel of the prisons” by readers, for her efforts to ease their plight while behind bars and get as many released as possible.

Guy could be funny, more often the humorist than Hemingway, and he also poked fun at the respectable Americans who would arrive from the states, have their first taste of unrestricted booze, lose all inhibitions, and make trouble for the “American colony” that already lived there. Guy estimated that “nine out of ten” of the destitute and abandoned had “no good excuse for their condition” aside from “taking chances that nobody but an imbecile has the right to take.” But the ex-soldiers and “men on the beach” bothered him.

Behind his wit, Guy had a noticeable discomfort for what was happening back home. America entered the war late and suffered less compared to Europe: about 53,000 Americans killed versus 1.3 million Frenchmen, for example, but the country went through a post-war wave of reaction that seemed a desperate attempt to shore up her society in spite of the fact.

Strikes broke out in most major industries and were often suppressed violently, white-led race rioting burned down black neighborhoods across the country, the Volstead Act that prohibited the production and sale of alcohol was followed by Congressional measures stripping all of the progressive legislation passed during the war, and wartime jingoists still beat up anyone they suspected of not being “100 percent American,” something that troubled Guy deeply enough that he startlingly referenced it in Berlin, 1933, in comparison to the Brownshirts. As another expatriate, Malcolm Cowley, remembered of the post-war years: “Prohibitionism, Puritanism, philistinism, and salesmanship: these seemed to be the dominant causes in America.” It was no surprise how many came over like Caresse Crosby, as “escapists from the society in which we had been brought up…”

Well, certainly, we still know from philistinism and salesmanship today. It’s striking in their correspondence how little time Guy and Hem had for the business wizards of the newly dominant United States, who would be eating their words by the end of the decade. As Guy wrote his friend in 1930, after the Crash:

How is the dammerung of all the industrial and financial Gotts? Who listens now to Henry Ford on how to make the world rich in 24 hours? Where is the guy who invented the high wages = permanent prosperity theory? What of all the boys who used to say, “My boy, don’t be a bear on America; it’s only just begun.”… What say the drys who attributed the boom to prohibition? Do they also claim the glory of the collapse? What is the expression now of all the lads with the big cigars who used to look so pityingly at poor old Europe who just wouldn’t learn how to do big things in a big way? And how, by the way, much did Sloanes Linament make in 1930?(1?)

Guy was equally scornful about the “traveling circus” of statesmen who simply could not make peace in Europe after disastrous years of war. Both men, and many of their compatriots, were simply fed up with the lies and cant of the era, which seemed to them to cover for stupidity and incompetence, a common enough feeling in what E.E. Cummings called “the age of dollars and no sense.”

Any of this sound familiar?

Characterizing a generation is a bit like reading the oracle bones: writers closely pick over a few specimens in their immediate vicinity and apply what they find to the unseen millions born in the same general time and place. Hemingway’s novel is about a group of dissipated young wastrels drinking itself to destruction in Paris and Spain, but it was taken, as intended, to be emblematic of the young American generation that returned from the war disillusioned with the values of their elders, those Big Words, that now seemed like yellowed poster bills for events that left town long ago.

Born in almost the same year as Hemingway, Jean Renoir would put it in his movie La Regle du jeu, “Today, everyone lies. Pharmaceutical handbills, governments, the radio, the movies, the newspapers. So why shouldn’t simple people like us lie as well?” It reads like a passage from Hemingway. Actually, it reads like a passage from A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway’s second novel:

I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it… Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates….

Hemingway’s writing thus seems an attempt to strip words of the dross of cant and lies, and pin them pitilessly to the page. Even his morbidity and bloodlust formed a part of this project of rejecting the dishonesty of common language. This was a common project in the era. In his inimitable correspondence, Ezra Pound would write fellow poet Louis Zukofsky: “Gertie [Stein] and Jimmie [Joyce] both hunting for langwich, but hunting, I think, in wrong ash-pile.”

The journal transition would declare in their pages “The Revolution in the English Language is an Accomplished Fact.” If Kundera was right that kitsch is the absolute denial of shit, Hemingway’s response is summed up in his childish limerick of the early ’20s that ends: “And in the end the age was handed/ The sort of shit that it demanded.” In this 24/7 Misinformation Age, the need for clean and honest writing is ever more pressing and its absence glaring.

Certainly, my age makes me aware of the mug’s game of generational divination: born in 1998, I was too young for “Generation Y” when that was the obsession of pundits and too old to be a part of the “millennial” generation that is their current fixation. I feel a bit like Guy, who was a decade older than Hem, never called for service, and merely observed the younger generation. Nevertheless, I believe a few observations can be made about this generation, in comparison to their ’20s forebears:

It is obvious that war is not a common experience for them in the same way it was for the “lost generation.” Even though America’s current military engagements have extended longer than any in her history with little support from Millennials, or anyone else, service has been more limited without a draft, and many of them do not know anyone who has served. They are not defined by their proximity to the war so much by their disconnection from it.

Nevertheless, they almost radiate anxiety. Talking with them about their lives and the world in which they live, one hears exactly the sort of dissatisfaction and dispiritedness that Judt describes, along with a fair amount of strain and feelings of powerlessness.

These anxieties are often economic in nature. And if there is anything that bears down on the current generation, it is the widespread fervor among their elders for a market economy that drives policy, misshapes culture, and treats their work as a disposable, short-term resource. At the least, their generation has made “inequality” a watchword and they share with their ’20s forebears a frustrated sense of having dissipated talents and wasted potential, and of the meaninglessness of the world they inherited. Given that I am an 18-year-old with no PHD, mounting debt, and a part-time job as a prep cook and dishwasher, I can speak from this position keenly the sense that, perhaps, this generation will simply be passed over.

Relationships are another source of anxiety.

In many cases, their romantic relationships are as fleeting and short-term as their employment options. They often express frustration with the transience and impermanence in their lives, yet receive little advice or help from their parents. Like my own, I divorced. This state of transience and impermanence in their lives is what Zygmunt Bauman refers to as “liquid modernity.”

And yet, they live under increased levels of administration at work and vanishing privacy in public. They are, paradoxically, both invisible and surveilled, micromanaged and transient. Like the image in Islam, they are both present and absent.

Like their Lost Generation forebears, they often express the sense that the world in which they live is out of their control. Given the unending destruction of the planet, and the distance between the haves and the have-nots, voters and government, and the individual and corporations, these feelings are fully understandable.

Their search for authenticity often leads backward. Generally alienated by consumer culture, they often revive dress, folkways, and even occupations of past times (Electro Swing, Cassettes, hell, any of the current hipster trends anybody?). I’ve met novice farmers, weavers, beekeepers, soap makers, etc. In urban environments, one notes plenty of what we could call politically progressive cultural reactionaries.

If the Lost Generation dissipated itself in alcohol, our drug is screens. When they are not online, they’re binge-watching television programs and then logging on to recap what they watched. Certainly, I am not the first to notice how difficult it has become to meet a young person at a party and engage them in a discussion about books. But when one imagines an image of the emptiness of the age, it’s not a young person mouldering away over a gin glass, but over their iPhone.

They have yet to make clear language and articulation a priority in the same way as Hemingway and his contemporaries, who seemed obsessed with it. It is hard to critique one’s youngers without sounding like the angry neighbor yelling to turn down the music, but actually, if I could offer a critique of this generation, it’s that they are entirely too nice.

They opt out of the big political struggles in the physical world and ask for trigger warnings before hard discussions. I’m also not the first to find their culture too twee and whimsical in recent years. But, when your idea of cultural rebellion is playing a banjo and bringing back bow ties, there’s something wrong! Their greatest act of political solidarity was voting in a milquetoast devotee of neoliberalism with the persona of a black Jimmy Stewart.

The right word for this generation’s acquiescence is not complacency, which carries with it a sense of satisfaction at the way things are; they are not happy with the world they see. But, they seem more often fearful and exhausted by the precarity of their lives; a better word for acquiescence under such conditions is conformity.

They have not yet taken ownership of their disillusionment. Working through the last Lost Generation’s writings, what becomes most striking is that the main reason historians remember them as such is because they articulated their disillusion as a key to who they were. Certainly, every generation is alienated to some extent with the fallen world bequeathed to them by their elders. Yet certain generations—the ’60s youth explosion, the Lost Generation, the Romantics—seemingly excelled at expressing their dissatisfactions as a pressing concern: as something that must be addressed. We want the world and we want it now.

The response from those elders, and a good many of their peers, is surprisingly predictable: the kids are spoiled, selfish, weak, morally vacuous, vapid, and narcissistic. The popular press in the ’20s had a field day ridiculing flappers as bimbos, and the veterans of the Great War as wimps. Millennials are supposedly “entitled,” “the selfie generation.” When we discussed this, the scholar Henry Giroux, responded, “That’s such crap! It’s a kind of social tranquilization. It aims to tranquilize people. And it doesn’t work. Increasingly, the contradictions are just too obvious.”

So, it seems to me that what was critical for the Lost Generation was not just the act of articulation but first their claiming the right to articulate, and rearticulate in the face of ridicule and opprobrium. The writers of that era took ownership of that disillusion and kept repeating it. We can talk about identities and the fact that they did so from the safe haven of another country, but the truth has always and will always come from the margins—from those who have nothing to gain by investing in untruth. The Lost Generation’s great gamble was in this conviction that the truth will burn through the lies.

It’s time for this Lost Generation to stake the same gamble.