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The Seduction Community is Guitar Hero for Dating

The Game

I’ve heard, in a vague way, about the Seduction Community off and on throughout my adult life.

For me, it started after Neil Strauss’ book, The Game, was published, but I imagine more people became aware of this sub-culture after Mystery, one of the main characters of the book, got himself a TV show.

But even with the recent popularity it has enjoyed in the mainstream media, let me give a brief overview of what the Seduction Community is all about for the uninitiated.

The point of this system (or rather, collection of systems) is to break down the art of picking up women into digestible chunks so that each piece can be analyzed, improved upon, and further systematized so that anyone can successfully pick up a woman who would generally be out of his league.

To do this, a combination of psychology, sociology, Neurolinguistic Programming, and other fun socio/psychological-related studies are brought to bear, alongside extensive research (hitting on lots and lots of women all the time) that’s done in the field.

This information is then disseminated throughout various forums, email lists, ebooks and membership-funded websites, each teaching a different brand of the overall pickup schema: step-by-step instructions on how to get that number, run those bases and get that gal into the sack with as little room for error as possible.

On the surface this may not seem too surprising, even if you’ve never heard of The Game or the Seduction Community. Hell, men have been trying to figure out how to have more sex since the dawn of time, so the fact that it would be brought up to modern standards, with Open Source-like wiki instruction manuals and business-savvy gurus is the logical next step.

On top of that, I’m told by friends that you also gain more confidence by going through the motions and learning the tactics that make a pickup artist successful. Having women pay attention to you, getting laid, knowing how to control a conversation or situation, these are all things that ramp up the self-confidence to new levels, which is good for a person overall.

Despite these positives, however, the Seduction Community is a bit like a candy bar: satisfying in the short-term, but potentially harmful in the long.

The Confidence Game

Confidence is not an easy thing to build up. It takes years and experience and tidbits of knowledge to add up to a really confident human being, and even then, it’s possible the attitude won’t stick.

And naturally, if something is difficult and time-consuming, there will be those who are looking for shortcuts. This is human nature, and what makes society awesome.

If you get your confidence through other people, however, you’re bound to always seek the approval and attention of someone else (in this case, the opposite sex), which, rather than improving a person’s life, actually forces them to constantly question their own value based on the ebb and flow of eyeballs and conversation coming their way.

This is not confidence, this is preening.

The systems utilized by the Seduction Community create a situation which can be easily understood and handled by people who play video games. You’ve got yourself an avatar (or in this case, a fake name and persona), a set of special powers (perhaps a fake job, costume, or some tricks to break the ice) and a quantifiable goal.

Making out with a woman, getting a phone number, or sleeping with someone is a point, and many pickup artists will eagerly keep track of their score, comparing theirs with others to see who they can learn from and who they can teach.

This is, of course, is an extension of the previous statement of getting value through others rather than through yourself. It’s also a huge lapse of moral judgment.

As soon as you reduce someone else to a number, to one more notch on your bedpost or one more phone number in your collection, you’ve essentially eliminated your chances of dealing with that person as another human being. How can you value someone for who they actually are when the purpose of talking to them in the first place is to rack up another point, to boost your own confidence level? How can you have a legitimate conversation when everything you say comes from a cheat-sheet or fits into a process you learned from someone else?

These systems have been known to work, sure, but it’s not a sustainable model. Knowing something about marketing and sociology makes sense if you’re not comfortable in social settings, but to go through life running lines from a script puts more distance between you and others and keeps you stunted socially. You may get better at reciting lines, but you’ll never get better at not needing lines in the first place.

The Sexist Game

Other people have spoken more eloquently than I could about the overtly sexist nature of the Seduction Community, and how teaching boys to treat women like objects rather than people is probably not the best direction for society, so I won’t focus on that here.

Frankly, though, if you have anything at all going on in your life and can hold up your end of a conversation, talking to someone and convincing them to do something they already want to do is not a problem. Instead of pretending to be a celebrity, go become one. Instead of acting like you have a book published, go write one. Instead of feigning like you’re in a band, go learn to play guitar.

The Seduction Community creates the illusion of self-improvement without the benefits.

The Guitar Hero Game

Think of someone you know who is really good at Guitar Hero.

They practice and practice and practice, and they have a lot of fun. When they’re at a party and someone has that fake plastic guitar leaning against the wall, they’re thrilled: they get to show off how good they are at playing this game.

Which is fine, to each their own, but think of what they could have done with that time instead. They could have learned a language or about quantum mechanics or how to paint a portrait or, if you can imagine, how to play guitar. In real life. They could be a real Guitar Hero.

But instead they play the game, because the instructions are easier to understand, it fits more within their realm of expertise (they’ve played other games, but they haven’t played other instruments), and there is less to lose if they fail. It’s a safe move, and ultimately one that is unrewarding, except to achieve a new high score (which is only truly impressive in the eyes of others who play the same game, or aspire to do so).

Pickup artistry is Guitar Hero for relationships and social interactions.

It provides a framework for people who are unfamiliar with how to talk to women, socialize, and improve their skills when it comes to communication, but the end goal is a score like any other game, whereas in real life, success is much more difficult to quantify (and obtain).

And sure, for some people it provides the confidence boost they need to get out into the world, which allows them to move on, build legitimate relationships, and start to build up more natural, organic confidence.

But if you have time to spend and you want people to like you, work on yourself first, rather than trying to trick others into thinking you are that person you want to be. It’s a sad, twisted individual who knocks others down in order to feel tall, rather than trying to grow and improve themselves.

The End Game

Like any idea or weapon, pickup artistry is only as good or bad as the people who use it.

Messing with people’s heads, hearts, or expectations is legal, but it’s a dick move. So is lying in order to scrounge favor or a phone number from someone you just met. The only possible reason you could have for presenting yourself as someone you’re not is because you’re ashamed of who you really are, and if that’s the case, masquerading or reading from a script only increases the problem, it doesn’t move you toward a solution.

Think of it this way: if you’re doing something that you wouldn’t want everyone to know, you should probably question the morality of said action. Most pickup artists squirm at the thought of a girl finding out what they’re up to, because they know that what they’re doing is ethically questionable.

Eventually everyone has to deal with the real world, and a big part of that is moving away from easy-fix social instruction manuals and weakly-justified motivations behind your own actions.

No matter how much time you spend reciting lines and wearing costumes, life won’t get any better until you start investing in yourself and taking responsibility for the results.

Stop playing games and start living life.

Update: January 26, 2017

Pickup artists were a big thing back then, in part because of that ridiculous show. I had an overlap with their community in some ways, because a lot of people equated ‘lifestyle design’ with ‘being a creepy fedora-wearing dude,’ apparently.

I’ve met many of these people in the years since, and the so-called gurus are among the sleeziest, most deeply self-conscious people I’ve ever encountered. I mentioned one encounter I had with a colony of them in one of my books, as it was just too bizarre; I couldn’t believe they were so removed from reality that the way they were operating made sense to them. I felt bad for the younger guys who started out innocent, but were taught by the older ones that being all rapey was okay.

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Happiness and Dragonfruit

At the moment I’m sitting in a beautiful room of a beautiful hostel with my buddy Carlos, getting ready to walk down to the beach for a massage and a casual lunch with two other friends, Cody and Ross.

Breakfast was pseudo-Western fare: eggs, bacon, baked beans, toast, melon. And the owner brought us some fresh dragon fruit as a dessert, explaining that the Chinese believed eating it would give you the strength and magical powers of a dragon.

I don’t have powers, but since I started traveling, I’ve felt like it.

Even when I’m not in a true, palm-tree-laden, beach-covered, cheap-massage-providing paradise, I’m still enjoying life, experiencing things that provide a constant stream of inspiration, excitement, education, and happiness.

I bring this up because in the rush to improve ourselves and get to the next level and achieve the myriad goals we hope to accomplish, it’s important to remember why we do it, and to appreciate our success when we have it.

I’m the kind of person who will never be content with what I have, but I’ve learned (and am still learning) to be happy. And I know when that feeling goes away, it’s time to move on, to change the way I’m doing things.

It takes a lot of work to get to where you want to be, and there will be times where you just have to cope with what’s going on and suffer a little. But even during those periods where everything is going wrong, there should be something in the back of your mind saying ‘yeah, but this is the good stuff’ or ‘man, this is going to make a good story later.’

Happiness is great for your health, mental and physical, and if you aren’t investing in being happy most of the time, there’s probably a better way to do what you’re doing.

Stop everything you’re doing right now and take a moment to think of where you’re at and all the good things you’ve got going for you. Just breath and think and reminisce and smile.

Taking the time to reflect on the good and be happy is one of the best investments you can make.

Update: January 26, 2017

Interesting that at this point I still assumed that I could never be happy with what I had. I suppose this was only a little over a year into my travels, and that means still a relatively short time from my lifestyle in Los Angeles, and everything that came with that lifestyle. So it makes sense, in a way.

For a long while I absolutely felt that burning drive to accomplish more, always. Today, I still feel driven, but not for accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment. It’s more about gleefully pursuing interesting things and feeling the liberty to chase my curiosity. That means I’m always moving toward something, but it also means I’m able to spend more of my time and attention appreciating what I’ve already got. Which has been wonderful.

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Ethical Business Practices and Your Stomach

The Trouble With Business

I’m in an evolutionary stage with a few of my businesses, and I want to go over something that’s been on my mind as a result.

For many, the concept of ethics seems to fade away as soon as they enter the boardroom/cubicle/home office. “It’s just business,” is the prevailing excuse for doing things that they would not do in normal, non-business society. No need to worry, it’s a consequence-free environment so long as you play by the rules of the business world, which are very different from those everyone plays by the rest of the time.

I understand why this ethical segmentation takes place.

First, the main point of starting a business for most people is to make money. This is the be-all, end-all purpose behind starting such an enterprise, and therefore any cost is legit in order to make a profit.

Second, since specialization is at a peak, most people will never have to be the sole morally loose-sprocket in a given machine. Each and every employee is just a piece of a greater whole, and it’s easy to convince yourself that there is someone higher up who is assuming the moral burden of the decisions made.

Third, because everyone else seems to be making money in unscrupulous ways, it’s easier to convince yourself that cutting corners and short-shrifting your ethics won’t be so bad. How else can you compete?

Unfortunately, these points provide the justification, but not a solution to the problems that result from all the unethical business behavior out there.

What Can Be Done?

If you’re running a business, you likely have customers or clients, and the first step is simple: do not do anything to these people that you would not want done to you.

I’ll give you an example (one that started a bit of a debate on Twitter the other day): I hate pop-ups on websites. I simply can’t stand them. If a site has one, I’ll never visit again; they bug me that much. To me, pop-ups have all the noxious-charm of a TV commercial but with less content. The message I see is, “Your time is mine.”

Seth Godin would call this ‘interruption marketing,’ as opposed to the preferable ‘permission marketing.’

There is evidence that having a pop-up on your site can increase your newsletter subscription rate, ebook purchase rate, or whatever else you want to advertise. But is it worth it?

Why would I do something to my readers that I know annoys me? Am I better than them in some way that they should have to stomach it and I should not?

Of course not, so I don’t use pop-ups. Same with banner ads and text ads. This site is ad-free.

Why all this trouble? Why all these missed opportunities?

Because I doubt I would have the same enthusiasm for this project if I didn’t think I was building something the way it should be built. My ethics aren’t yours, of course, and everyone needs to figure out where their personal lines are drawn, but crossing those lines has consequences.

Consequences

My enthusiasm, plus the goodwill of my non-annoyed readers, is a huge advantage gained by this method of running a business.

My readership numbers could probably be higher if I used every trick in the book, but my clickthrough and participation rates are off the charts because people are more likely to get involved if they don’t feel pressured and put-upon by their host.

I wanted interaction with my readers, and I get it. All I had to do was treat them the way I’d want to be treated.

I know, the Golden Rule is no big moral revelation, but for some reason it seems to be almost completely unknown in the business world. There are many strong professionals out there who aren’t living up to their potential because they ignore their personal ethics when on the job.

I used to wrestle with this, thinking it a weakness that I couldn’t stomach doing what needed to be done in order to maximize my numbers, but I’ve come to realize that letting my gut lead the way is what allows me to lead the lifestyle I do.

I can operate a handful of ventures at any given time without stressing out or feeling weighed down by them. In fact, I wake up excited every day, looking forward to what I get to do for work. My businesses bring value to me and my clients/customers/readers, and that brings me a great deal of satisfaction.

And you know what? The money follows.

If you’ve got a business or job that isn’t bringing you joy along with cash, you’re selling yourself short.

If you wouldn’t be comfortable telling your base all about every decision you make, every tactic you use, and every scheme you come up with, you’ve got a problem on your hands.

Avoid burnout and work to live, not just to make a living. Don’t sell out your base to make a buck, build a base that will gladly help you make money as you help them achieve their goals.

Live ethically to live happily.

Update: January 26, 2017

I’m still a big proponent of this idea. And I’ve extended it even further, actually, to everything in my life. I find that being open and truthful by default helps me avoid awkwardness and moral conflict. It also ensures decisions are a lot easier to make, because you don’t have to choose between what you think is the right thing, and what may be more profitable, but less aligned with your ideals.

It also doesn’t hurt to live a life that you don’t necessarily just put out there, but that you wouldn’t worry about everyone knowing about, should you get hacked or something. That’s been big on my list, too: be okay enough with everything I do and say so that if it all comes out someday, I’ll be able to stand behind how I lived.