XKCD Fan wrote:Further, we are also suppose to believe that acting on these ideas is simply a mental defect in our brains completely insurmountable; ie. If you cannot get a girlfriend, its because there is something wrong with your brain?
I don't think her counter-"negging" was about romantic
success, or about pickup artists in particular. It was just a tactical nuke of self-esteem-lowering commentary in response to his opening volley. He implies she has trouble keeping her figure. She implies that he has trouble making anything worthwhile out of his sorry excuse for a life.
This woman he's taken an interest in has proven herself to be an utter bitch. Better to be single than to be with a stuck-up snot
Better to be single than in an adversarial relationship of any kind. If you have to lie or manipulate someone to get or keep their affections, then they are not true affections, and where is the value of that... unless you're only interested in them for the use of their body and don't care about their feelings, in which case you're objectifying them and an unethical bastard. (Not only sexual objectification is unethical; the core of ethical intention is in recognizing other people as moral agents with subjective concerns as valid as your own: "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end." I think Abraham Lincoln said that</Dylan>).
Learn that lesson -- that the only people worth being with are the people who honestly want to be with you -- and you are no longer a "pickup artist". That doesn't mean that there is no packaging involved in "selling yourself", however:
In an ideal world you'd be able to be honest and straight with women about your intentions and eventually everything would work out. Do you want to date? You would get a simple yes/no answer. You want casual sex? Also a yes/no answer. ANY guy who has put himself out there knows this peaches and roses scenario does not exist and never will. You have to be cool. You have to be smooth. You have to pretend not to care. You have to flirt. You have to act natural at the same time. etc.
Spill Wooner wrote:And call me crazy, but advertisers try to dig at people's self-esteem all the time. It's how you prepare them for your pitch, that what you're selling will make them feel better. I don't see how acknowledging this human truth is somehow horrible when selling oneself. (I.E. dating.)
To be entirely honest, i don't think advertisers are a useful standard of ethical behaviour.
Dating does involve "selling yourself", sure. So does any kind of relationship, be it personal or professional (e.g. employment, as either employer or employee). In order to establish it, you need to catch the other person's attention, and highlight the things that they might like about you, before they notice things they might dislike about you and dismiss you without giving you a chance. (They are still going to notice those things eventually, so you can't hide it completely, but you need to keep their attention at least long enough for them to notice the good stuff too). The psychological tools used by advertisers can be put to good use. But, like all tools, there are ways that they can be abused as well. Many advertisers, as pointed out above, do abuse them, as do "pickup artists"; but they do not have to be abused to be used.
For an analogy: I am a graphic and web designer for a living. A lot of my work involves taking a document of some kind, making it look pretty and be easy to read, and directing the reader's attention to the more important parts (the parts the person who wrote the document wants them to notice most) first. All of that can be done irrespective of the content
of the document. There can be a big attention-getting title and tagline with a nice photo of the product and well-set type in an easy-to-read font face and size and some bullet points outlining the most important bits... and those most important bits might either be reasons you suck, followed by the claim that the product will make you a worthwhile human being, or reasons why the product is awesome, followed by an offer to provide it to you on reasonable terms.
For another analogy... well, less an analogy than an abstraction: Making a good persuasive argument -- and any sales pitch, including a job application or a romantic pickup, is a kind of persuasive argument -- requires skill at both logic and rhetoric. Logic is about making sure that the content of your argument is correct. If your logic is bad, then nobody can really be honestly persuaded by your argument; at best, they can be mislead by it, manipulated by it, but if they really understood it, they would not buy it, and any persuasive force it has relies on that misunderstanding. Rhetoric is about making sure your argument is palatably delivered. The most sound logical argument in the universe will be completely unpersuasive if you start off by so offending your audience that they stop listening any further. You need to deliver that argument in a way that will at least convince them to hear you out, and listen to your reason and evidence. You could use that rhetoric to "convince" them of something in and of its own, sure, but that would be that kind of empty victory by virtue of not being properly understood, again. Convincing someone of what they thought you were saying, while obscuring what you were really saying, is not the same thing as convincing someone of what you were saying.
"You have to be cool. You have to be smooth." Yes, these show you are even-tempered, a reason to like you. Who is more enjoyable to be around, someone constantly angry or sad, or someone calm and happy? Sure, everyone does get angry and sad sometimes, but if that's the first thing they see of you they may dismiss you out of hand before ever seeing your good side.
"You have to pretend not to care." No, you have to not look desperate, because that's a reason not to like you. Who is more enjoyable to be around, someone who wants something from you, or someone offering something to you? (Unless they
in turn are looking to take advantage of you
, and want to be in a power position there, but then why would you want to be in such a relationship?) Who is more likely to get a good job: someone begging to be hired pretty please because they need the money really bad, or someone confidently offering their professional services in a mutually beneficial business arrangement?
"You have to flirt." Yes, you have to show that you are interested. Who is more likely to get hired, someone who applies to open positions or someone who just waits for their resume to be noticed? Conversely, who is more likely to fill their open position, someone who advertises it or someone who just waits for the right person to apply? Either can happen, but those putting themselves out there have a better chance than those who aren't.
"You have to act natural at the same time." Yes, because -- and this is the big one -- people don't like being deceived and manipulated
. If you're acting in an obviously affected way, then they will pick up on the fact that they are being deceived or manipulated. Of course nervousness, or overcompensation for nervousness, can look suspiciously deceptive or manipulative even when it's not, so "acting natural" is still a skill to learn even when you are not being deceptive or manipulative. But the first step toward acting natural is (for desperate lack of a better phrase) being natural
. Being yourself; not deceiving, not manipulating.
If they don't like you for who you are, then they don't like you, and any affection you may get from them will go away when they inevitably find out who you really are. And worse still: it never really existed in the first place
. They liked somebody they mistakenly thought you were, or worse, they saw you for what you are but were themselves so desperate (possibly due to your "negging") that they didn't think they could do any better. Do you really want to be "he's all I could get"? Does that make you feel proud?
If they don't like the real you because of some problem with the real you, then work on improving yourself. Easier said than done, believe me I know, but being a better person should be higher priority in that case than tricking people into thinking you're better than you are, or that you're the best they could get. And if they don't like you because they are unable to see how awesome you really are... then that's their problem, and you deserve better.
Or, maybe you can work on showing them how awesome you really are, without deceiving them into thinking you're more awesome than you are, or manipulating them into thinking they deserve less awesomeness than they do.