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.