“If You Can’t Fake Anything Nice, Don’t Fake Anything At All”


One of the more confusing things that started happening while I was away was that people started putting up Tumblrs to shame men who call themselves Nice Guys, on the grounds that if you say you’re nice, then that proves you’re not, or something.  I don’t get it, but maybe I just don’t get Tumblr.

Except for all the Sherlock GIFs.  I get those.

But here’s the thing about “nice” guys being bad:  The opposite of bad isn’t nice — it’s good.  I have no interest in calling myself a nice guy, because I’m not a nice guy.  I’m a good man.  There’s a difference, and it’s a fairly important difference too.  The dangerous and false meme that’s getting going now is the idea that nice guys, which people lazily define as a synonym for good men, are inherently uncool.  That’s dangerous because it’s making men go out of their way to act like shitheads, and it’s false because of this hilarious essay you’ve just started reading.

Okay, here’s an easy question:  Who is the coolest guy in the original Star Wars?

Come on, I’ll give you a hint:  He’s a smooth-talking badass with a twinkle in his eye.

Obviously, you all just said “Han Solo.”

You were also all wrong, because Han Solo is not the coolest guy in Star Wars.  This dude is:

“I’m so cool, I don’t even give a shit
that I’m in
Star Wars right now.”

Although it’s obvious once it’s pointed out, it’s difficult for most of us to realize at first that Obi-Wan Kenobi is in in fact twelve parsecs considerably cooler than Han Solo by every conceivable measure: he’s cleverer at getting out of jams, he’s more dangerous in a fight, he gets riled less easily, and whenever he murders somebody in a bar, he offers to buy him a drink first. 

The reason it’s hard for us to realize this at first is because we’re defining “cool” as the guy who would get laid at the party, and that isn’t a fair fight, because Obi-Wan wouldn’t even be at the party in the first place.  He’d be off doing something more important, like winning a Clone War or coming back from the dead or hiding both himself and the other person he’s supposed to be hiding in the very first place where anyone would check under both of their real names because fuck you that’s why.

Granted, Han Solo bears a much stronger resemblance to a 34-year-old Harrison Ford, but that’s irrelevant, because that will make you cool no matter what you act like.

Unless you act like Luke.

I mentioned in my last essay that while I was away I converted to a casual mishmash of Hinduism and Buddhism and started practicing yoga and meditation.  I think this has made people respond to me better in social situations, and not just because my ass is now firmer than an Asian kid’s grasp of SAT strategies.  Mainly, I think it’s because I don’t worry about doing or saying things before I do or say them.

Now, the point I’m making here is different from that of the guy who leaves YouTube comments about how he does what he wants and doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks of him (which you can tell is totally true, on account of how he begs strangers to believe it in YouTube comments).  “Not worrying about what you do” is different from “Doing whatever you want” because, once you’ve achieved the sort of balance that truly allows you not to worry, then “whatever you want to do” will no longer merely be whatever you want to do, but actually the right thing to do, and therefore nothing to worry about.

Case in point: the other week, a woman stepped onto the subway carrying a cool tote bag with a picture of the Buddha on it, and I immediately said “Hey, cool bag!  Where’d you get it?”  By “immediately,” I don’t mean that I leapt from the shadows like some sort of hey-cool-bag ninja — I mean that I just genuinely felt it and genuinely said it all of the same impulse, rather than sitting across from her for several minutes worrying about how to broach the subject of her cool bag without creeping her out, thereby creeping her out so much that she changes into a t-shirt that says “I am wearing headphones.”

Since I was honestly free of any motive other than saying what I meant in that moment because I meant it, the woman answered me equally genuinely, and we had a nice conversation about Thailand.  My end of the conversation was mostly about monkeys, but so is my end of most conversations.

If this sounds suspiciously similar to the PUA “five-second rule” — the one that says you have to start talking to a pretty girl within five seconds of noticing her — it’s not.  The difference is that I am advocating actually being genuine for the sake of your own happiness as well as society’s, whereas PUAs are advocating pretending to be genuine so that women will sleep with you.

But I wasn’t thinking about any goal, because I didn’t have one.  In fact, unless it’s “raising my daughter well,” I almost never have goals anymore.

You know that voice in your head that’s always grumbling about how if you tell a woman on the subway that her bag is cool, she’ll just get mad at you because something something feminists rarrrr?  No she won’t, and if she does, that’s not why.  When you tell yourself that any woman you ever talk to will inevitably angrily call you out on only wanting to sleep with her, this is actually you angrily calling yourself out on the fact that you actually do only want to sleep with her.  It’s called projection.  And it’s not happening because the higher educational system has made you internalize “misandry” — it’s happening because, somewhere deep down inside, you wish you were better than that.

The reason I didn’t anxiously expect a smackdown about telling a random woman I liked her Buddha tote bag was because I was genuinely only telling her that I liked her Buddha tote bag.  And I have to say it felt pretty good.

P.S:  If you are now scrolling down to the comments to ask whether I fucked her, I’m pretty sure you missed the point.

Here’s another experience I am moved to share.  A couple weeks ago, after nearly two months of no alcohol, no tobacco, and no meat, I passed through an absolutely beautiful moment during my morning yoga.  I hadn’t turned on the light, but the room was still especially bright because of the sun reflecting off of a recent heavy snowfall through the windows.  My daughter was at her mom’s place, so I was doing my cycles naked.  I had woken up sexually aroused, and while I was in downward dog, a small pearly drop of seminal fluid formed at the tip of my penis and then very slowly extended all the way down to the mat before the glistening liquid thread connecting it to my body silently and gently snapped.  I’d concentrated my attention on it the entire time, and in the flooding sunlight it seemed to be made of a transparent liquid silver.  In that moment, for the first time in my life, I did not feel guilty about having a penis, or as if being a man made me a bad person.  For the first time ever, I felt as beautiful as I think women are.

And it had absolutely nothing to do with “standing up to feminists,” or whatever.  On the contrary, it had to do with clearing the outside world from my mind and concentrating on my own existence, on its own terms.

Right about now, you might be ready to warn me about how a tornado of feminists is about to blow through the comments excoriating me for feeling glorious in my own male body, for specifically male reasons.  But I don’t think that’s going to happen.  Sure, maybe it will.  I haven’t met every feminist in the world, and maybe some of them would be inclined to say something like that.  But why don’t we wait and see whether these hypothetical feminists even say anything of the sort, before we worry?  After all, it’s not very manly to worry for no reason.

And even if, someday, a woman does say something along those lines to me, what reason would I have other than fear — or an actual psychological need to be angry — to assume she speaks for anyone other than herself?  People who are obviously just trying to get a reaction out of you can be easy enough to ignore with the right practice.

Oh, and speaking of my awesome penis:  I also haven’t looked at porn in about two months either, and I humbly recommend you stop too.

What?!  You’re telling me not to jack off anymore?!  I know, right?  Because there’s nothing on the Internet to jack off to besides porn.  Except for burlesque videos, fashion-show montages, beauty-pageant montages, an infinite amount of expertly staged sexy pictures of every woman who is famous or has ever been famous, an equally infinite number of candid pictures of those women at red-carpet events or outside talk shows or just walking down the street to buy groceries, websites that sell sexy women’s clothing, websites that sell normal women’s clothing, instructional yoga videos on YouTube, instructional makeup videos on YouTube, British women “reviewing” pantyhose on YouTube, women on YouTube pretending to be British while pretending to give you a haircut for two hours, grainy compilations of models with awesome 80s hair sashaying around stereo consoles and sailboats on The Price Is Right, clips of stupendously attractive people having sex from regular non-pornographic movies as opposed to pornographic movies, and of course, Wikifeet.

“Not looking at porn” doesn’t have to mean “not jacking off,” or even “not looking at pictures of women that are still extremely sexually provocative but not technically pornography while you do said jacking off.”  Heck, if you’d like to take a break from reading this essay, feel free to just unzip and whack it the hell off to this picture right now:

sexy secretary

What’s the matter?  If you like my writing so much that you’d rather finish reading the essay before strangling your moray, then I’m very flattered.  But if your first reaction was that you couldn’t jack off to that picture, then this may be something you want to explore.  That right there is a picture of a stunningly attractive woman, provocatively dressed and making an unmistakable “I sure do enjoy penis” face.  If you can’t get an erection from looking at it, then your erotic senses have been dulled.  And if you can’t even get an erection from both looking at it and also masturbating, then your erotic senses have been seriously dulled.

Once again, this is not about “doing what feminists say,” or whatever.  Forget the feminists for ten goddamn seconds.  This is about you, as an individual human male, on your own terms.  Wouldn’t you like yourself better if you didn’t need to watch a video of a girl taking three dicks in the ass with her head in a toilet bowl just to be able to get it up?

And it’s not like this takes years.  After a few days of not looking at porn, I started springing trees from seeing women in real life, which basically hasn’t happened to me since the Internet was invented.  (Of course, this wasn’t exactly a controlled experiment, so a role may also have been played by not always being drunk.)

Before the conservatives (or is it the liberals?  I don’t even know anymore) start claiming I’m on their side, be advised that I’m not saying porn is bad, or that it should be banned, or even that I no longer think people who do porn are awesome — I think contemporary DIY alt-porn is a positive cultural force, and that Sasha Grey is arguably the most influential American woman of the 21st Century so far.  I just think it’s bad news if you need porn to get through a typical day, just like it’s bad news if you need alcohol or pot or angry confrontations or video games or Facebook or anything besides food, water, shelter, and Beatles songs to get through a typical day.

Looking at it that way now, it almost seems obvious.  But like a lot of guys, I was so invested (remember that negative investment is still investment) in a disapproval-feminism paradigm that I never considered any possible responses to “Stop doing this because of the reason why I say it’s bad” besides “Ha ha, I’m going to do it anyway,” even though another eminently possible response is “I’m going to stop doing this, but because of the reason why I say it’s bad instead of the reason you do.”

As a general rule, it’s not helpful to always imagine the least likable people who don’t like the thing you’re doing.  The reason you should stop drinking so much beer isn’t because snobs look down on you for not drinking wine; it’s because you keep waking up in Coney Island at 3am without your keys.

You have to — seriously, you absolutely must — let go of everyone else’s paradigm.

That reminds me, you should also be
able to jack off to “Let It Go.”

In general, I think the Internet makes the world a better place, as long as we train ourselves to take the best advantage of the unprecedented power it offers (as I am fond of reminding my students, the fact that you have a computer providing instantaneous access to all the world’s knowledge in your fucking pocket all day long means that you no longer have any excuse to not know something for longer than the 30 seconds it would take you to look it up, and you are the first generation of people in human history who have had the privilege to grow up with this indescribably wonderful ability, so stop fucking saying “How am I supposed to know that?”).  The downside is that the Web has also made it easier than ever before for people to fall into an echo chamber for a certain worldview and never climb out of it again.

Perhaps the most obvious example, and almost certainly the most dangerous one, is the fact that, according to the Internet today, you are either a “Pick-Up Artist” (which is the stupidest thing anyone could possibly unironically call himself, with the possible exception of “wizard”), or you are a helpless twerp who is terrified of women.  The Internet would have you believe that it is impossible to be both attractive to women and an honest, loyal, morally scrupulous person.

cool story bro
“Cool story, bro.”

But something you must keep uppermost in your mind is the fact that being attractive to women is not the point of being a good person.  Once you start seeing this as the sole, or even the primary, reason for a life change, then you become poisoned by the PUA paradigm.  The point of being a good person is being a good person — just like, if you are a rationalist, you probably already believe that the point of the truth is that it’s the truth; you don’t need a second reason to believe it.

The reason that men who wish to become good — not “nice guys,” but genuinely good — need to stop worrying amount whether women are actually turned on by good men isn’t because they aren’t.  It’s because you cannot truly become a good man until you become unhampered by the fear that doing so will make you unattractive to women.

"Your Amstel Lights and Family Guy quotes...  You will not need them."

The key to getting whatever it is you want to get out of life — which, I suppose, would include sleeping with a lot of women if that’s truly what is important to you, which is none of my business either way — is to do things that make you like yourself.

For example, I mentioned a moment ago that I also stopped eating meat.  And you know what?  I didn’t turn into a giant vagina like South Park said I would.  You know what else?  When someone tries to make fun of me based on that episode, I casually act like I haven’t seen it and then quickly start making fun of them for something completely different, instead of issuing a logical point-by-point response to the thing that they obviously don’t really believe themselves because they were clearly just fucking with me.  You know how old I was before I figured out that’s what you’re supposed to do?  36.  I was fucking 36, is the answer to that question.

I have more energy and experience better moods and less gastrointestinal discomfort, and my inner thighs are more toned than a printer-factory explosion.  I should have gone vegetarian years ago.  Actually, I would have gone vegetarian years ago, except I was too afraid of being made fun of based on that South Park episode.  That is true.  The sentence I just typed there is 100% true.

That is no way to live, people.

So stop living that way.

Oh, and I said “guy” instead of “character” in that question at the beginning because otherwise the answer is Leia.

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