One of the stranger aspects of progress is the way in which it starts and stops. Much like learning a new language (at least how it’s worked for me), every day you’re learning new words, colloquialisms, and grammatical structures. You find yourself less reliant on same boring verbs. You make jokes and people actually get them. This new world is yours! The doors of a new form of communication have opened up just for you!
And then one day you forget the very word for door, everything is “cool” because you don’t remember any other adjectives, and you think the waitress asked you what kind of car you drive when she just wanted to know what size Coke you want. Your mouth feels stiff, it’s sick of having to learn all these new ways to manipulate itself so it’s punishing you with an American accent worse than that of Al Gore’s Spanish or Brad Pitt’s Italian in Inglorious Basterds. All that time and effort and you find yourself reverting to the point-and-draw-with-your-hands method.
When you start, you expect to sound like an idiot; it’s part of the process. You’ll accidentally tell everyone at a dinner party that you’re pregnant, but you’re fine with that because you know that if you don’t take some risks you’ll never learn. Sometimes you set yourself up for extensive mockery. Once I thought I was describing a pair of women as “close friends” but instead said that they were “stretched-out friends.” This meant that every time I saw them they would awkwardly contort their arms and necks whenever they saw me.
But in some ways, the initial failures are more objectively humiliating, they aren’t nearly as bothersome as the later ones. Eventually the embarrassment’s supposed to stop, you’re supposed to be there. You’ve worked your tail off, memorized dozens of irregular verb conjugations, and you’re done being a fool. You’ve already seduced women, made an effective case for capitalism, and described all the intricacies rules of American football rules, so you’re not supposed to accidentally order potatoes at the movie theater concession stand.
But you do it anyway. You work through the stiffness in your mouth, use wrong words until they’re right, feel like a moron all over again, and just plow through.
And all of a sudden, you’re artfully dissing your least favorite philosophers without even realizing you’re doing it in French (or Swahili, Korean, etc.).
Faking It For Real
Such is my recent experience socially. Oh so recently I was bouncing my way into conversations with people with whom I have nothing in common, I didn’t exactly approach anybody, I just talked to them. I worked in my rhetorical tricks, made liberals sound like libertarians, push/pulled and had nearly everybody trying to qualify themselves to me.
And then it stopped. “Why are you here?” hinted the facial expressions of the headbangers and hipsters who seemed to admire me just days prior. I don’t care what you think of the band. Was I doing anything differently or did I just stumble onto a grump-streak? Both? Neither? I may never know.
Also, I was living up to the standard expressed in my last post. There weren’t many bumps, but I took them with the perfect attitude.
Yet soon after writing it, I found myself being every bit as downcast as I accused Donal of being. In the comments I told him that we all make the same mistake in some area of our lives, but I should have done it in the post itself. He took it in stride and thus demonstrated some of the humility that I need myself.
Or do I?
Boldly Going Where No One Goes
As men we’re supposed to be strong, confident, and bold. We’re to fight for our beliefs, bust the asses of the kids on the football team we’re coaching, work through the pain no matter what, and fight. Like Rocky V tells his son (I paraphrase from memory), what makes a man a man is how well he can take a hit and still keep moving forward. We’re the ones who cut through the nonsense. Indecision is poison.
Obviously, such traits are what women find attractive, but they’re also what men look up to. I can’t find the study, but they’ve recently found that men judge sports gurus according to how confidently they make their predictions. We don’t particularly care if they’re always wrong, as long as they’re really sure about it when they are.
Yet life isn’t SportsCenter. Sometimes if you’re wrong, it actually matters. Dammit, we’re invading Russia, SCHNELL! Moving to Iowa might not be the best thing either for your family or your career. Maybe you really should go to the doctor about that stomach pain. Sometimes, when life whacks you upside the head, it’s not testing your mettle and calling you to move forward, it’s telling you that you’re going the wrong way.
In that video, do we not see alpha behavior? They boldly proceed, ruthlessly mocking their adversaries. They were also idiots.
There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance, between resolve and pigheadedness.
Only those of us with a healthy upbringing have found the proper balance. Most of us are naturally drawn too far in one direction or the other.
Today’s society minimizes the importance of masculine leadership. Many of us were brought up to value cooperation over independence, consensus-building over decisiveness, and caring over authority.
There is no “I” in “team”…
We’ve become too likely to ask others what they think. Where do you want to go? We’ve been shut out of leadership positions by loudmouths who don’t know what the hell they’re doing but who boldly sound like they do. The other guy always gets the girl. We’re overly cooperative, service-craving, mush.
And then we take the Red Pill. We see the error of our ways and correct it, completely. No more indecision, no more asking what she wants, tell her what we want. No more Mr. Nice Guy, no more Mr. Clean.
…but there is a “me”.
To hell with indecision, doubt, meekness, cooperation, and asking questions of any kind.
Rightly or wrongly, if you just want to get the babes, this is the way to go. Boldness is Alpha, whether it’s the Navy SEAL storming the terrorist stronghold or the mafia hitman blowing the snitch’s brains out in the restaurant.
However, although acquiring power and keeping it because you’re using it well are related skills, they’re not the same.
Being raised in an absurdly feminine environment, my natural tendency was to cooperate, not to rock the boat. When life dealt me lemons, I was a bit too inclined to make lemonade instead of loading the lemons with explosives and hurling them back at the bastards who threw them at me. I was taught to reflexively treat opposition as an opportunity to see the error of my own ways instead of as a chance to learn to overcome obstacles, as evidence that I should change course. When things didn’t go how I wanted them to, my internal frame told me that I was going the wrong way when lots of times I actually wasn’t. I should have followed Rocky V’s advice and dug deeper, plowed ahead, and just assumed that I was going to feel stupid for a while until I win.
However, I don’t want to go too far in the other direction, either. I’m no longer afraid of making judgments, but I never want to make snap judgments. I’ll rarely have all the facts I want before making a decision, but I know I’m too inclined to want more facts than I can get, so now I just make up my damn mind. I just don’t do it ignorantly if I have the option.
I want power, and I’m no longer the quiescent team-member who follows opinion instead of directing it. Nevertheless, there are times when it makes sense to ask for other opinions. Every once in a while a woman’s emotions actually have some relationship to reality, and if you want to have successful relationships you’ve got to figure out when that is (and when it isn’t).
I’m a strong advocate of self-knowledge, of recognizing your own assumptions, for when you recognize your natural tendencies you can learn to control them. You’ve got to maintain your frame, but If you know you’re likely to jump to conclusions, you can learn when and how to be more deliberative. Sometimes it makes sense to lead people to believe that their opinions matter even if deep down you know they’re complete idiots.
After all, being a leader sucks if you’re leading everybody straight to hell. Eventually, you’ll stop listening to the football prognosticator if he keeps losing you money no matter how boldly he makes his predictions.
Men & Women
Generally speaking, men have more to fear from indecisiveness and women more to fear from being to brash. So naturally, we’re raising our boys to be wimps and our women to be she-monsters. I can’t wait to see how that turns out.
But for men, the Red Pill can be a jarring experience. We were manginas, so now we’re going to be men. Time for some power.
Yet power is fleeting if it’s not used well no matter how well it’s framed.
Not only that, I actually want to use it for good things. I want those who submit to me to be rewarded for it.
On the way to social mastery, I’m going to look like an idiot more than a few more times. I’m aware that I’ll make a lot of mistakes, but I’m also aware that I’m going to face plenty of opposition even if, or often because, I’m doing everything right.
Part of why I’m so good at political rhetoric is that I understand the other side’s positions better than most of their supporters. Part of why I know I’m supposed to take charge is that I spent so much time watching those in charge make a complete mess of things.
Oddly enough, every once in a while humility actually leads to confidence.