Towards a theory of nerds… who suffer.

Sum­mary: I will here fo­cus on nerds who suffer, from the lack of self-re­spect and sex­ual, ro­man­tic, so­cial suc­cess. My the­sis this stems from self-ha­tred, and the self-ha­tred stems from child­hood bul­ly­ing, and the solu­tion will in­volve fix­ing things that made one a “tempt­ing” bul­ly­ing tar­get, and some other ways to im­prove self-re­spect.

Mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing and offense

SSC wrote we don’t yet have a sci­ence of nerds. http://​​slat­estar­​​2014/​​09/​​25/​​why-no-sci­ence-of-nerds/​​ My pro­posal is to use mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing and fo­cus on the sub­set of nerds who suffer and need helping. I am mostly fa­mil­iar with the white straight male de­mo­graphic and in this, suffer­ing nerds are of­ten called “neck­beards”, or “omega males”.

One dan­ger of such mo­ti­vated rea­son­ing is giv­ing out offense, be­cause prob­lems that cause suffer­ing and in need of helping have a huge over­lap with traits that can be used as in­sults, many dis­abil­ities are good par­allels here, it is pos­si­ble to use dis­abil­ities as in­sults mainly for peo­ple who don’t ac­tu­ally have them, es­pe­cially when us­ing emo­tion­ally loaded lan­guage like “crip­ple” or “re­tard”. Any helpful doc­tor needs to be care­ful if he wants to di­ag­nose a child with low IQ, par­ents will of­ten be like, “my kid is not stupid!” and we have a similar is­sue here.

The solu­tion to the offense is­sue is: if you are a nerd, and you find what I write here does not ap­ply to you, good: you are not in the sub­set of nerds who need helping! You are a happy, well-ad­justed per­son with some “nerdy” in­ter­ests and prefer­ences, which is en­tirely OK but also rel­a­tively un­in­ter­est­ing, I sim­ply don’t want to dis­cuss that be­cause that is mostly like dis­cussing why some peo­ple don’t like mush­room on their pizza: maybe bor­der­line cu­ri­ous, but not im­por­tant. I fo­cus on nerds who suffer. Hu­man suffer­ing is what mat­ters, and if I can help a hun­dred peo­ple who suffer while offend­ing ten who do not un­der­stand that I am not talk­ing about them, it is a good trade.

I am largely talk­ing about the guys who are mocked and bul­lied by be­ing called “for­ever a vir­gin”, those whose traits cluster around in­ter­est in D&D, Magic: The Gather­ing, fan­tasy, anime, have poor body hy­giene, dress and groom in ways con­sid­ered unattrac­tive, have poor so­cial skills, very low chances of ever find­ing a girlfriend, and not have any so­cial life be­sides team­ing up with fel­low so­cial out­casts.


I pro­pose the core is­sue of suffer­ing nerds, “neck­beards”, “omega males” is self-ha­tred. I see three rea­sons for this:

A) En­gag­ing in fan­tasy, D&D, dis­cussing su­per­heroes, Star Wars etc. can be seen as es­cap­ing from a self and life one hates.

Against1: ev­ery novel and movie is a way to that. Not just fan­tasy or su­per­hero comics.

Pro1: have you no­ticed non-nerdy peo­ple like movies and nov­els that are more or less cast in the here and now, with heroes that are be­liev­able con­tem­po­rary char­ac­ters? While nerds are of­ten bored by “main­stream” crime nov­els, Lud­lum type spy nov­els, by stuff “nor­mal peo­ple” read?

Against2: this can sim­ply mean dis­lik­ing the cur­rent, real world, but not nec­es­sary their own self.

Pro2: ad­mit­tedly, un­real, mag­i­cal ad­ven­tures can have an al­lure to all. Our mod­ern world re­ally is dis­en­chanted, as Max We­ber had put it. Things were more in­ter­est­ing when peo­ple be­lieved stone ar­row heads found are from elves, not cave­men. Still, peo­ple who are happy with their own self are happy enough with see­ing an im­proved ver­sion of their own self over­com­ing re­al­is­tic ob­sta­cles in a “main­stream” crime or war novel or movie. Dream­ing about be­ing a fire­ball caster wiz­ard or a su­per­hero with su­per­pow­ers means you do not trust your­self you could ever be like a guy in a “main­stream” movie, throw­ing punches, shoot­ing guns and kiss­ing mod­els, it does not in­spire you to be­come like that, it rather frus­trates you that you could be some­thing like that and you are not, and thus you want your heroes and idols to be safely non-imitable. No­body will give you shit why you can­not cast a light­ning bolt spell. It does not re­mind you of your in­ad­e­qa­cies and the shit you were given for them. In­stead of a real-world fan­tasy that gives you a painful re­minder of your in­ad­e­quacy, a mag­i­cal fan­tasy al­lows you to fan­ta­size about a com­pletely differ­ent life, be­ing a com­pletely differ­ent per­son, some­one you could never ex­pected to be. In­stead of these dreams painfully re­mind­ing you to im­prove your­self, in your fan­tasy you ba­si­cally die as your cur­rent self and be re­born as some­one en­tirely differ­ent in an en­tirely differ­ent life with en­tirely differ­ent rules.

Against3: so ev­ery­body who en­joys LOTR movies and the GoT se­ries is hat­ing him­self? Have you not no­ticed fan­tasy went main­stream in the re­cent years?

Pro3: in­deed it did. But a ver­sion of it that lacks the un­real ap­peal. Game of Thrones is al­most his­tor­i­cal, it is just nor­mal me­dieval peo­ple fight­ing and schem­ing for power, with very lit­tle su­per­nat­u­ral thrown in. LOTR got hol­ly­wood­ized in the movies, much more fo­cus on flashy sword fight­ing against stupid look­ing brutes, less about su­per­nat­u­ral stuff. They are to fan­tasy what Buck Rogers was to sci-fi. And non-nerds just watch them, maybe read them, but do not ob­sess about them.

B) Their poor cloth­ing and groom­ing habits sug­gest they do not think their own self de­serves to be dec­o­rated.

Against1: maybe they are just not in­ter­ested in their looks.

Pro1: life is a trade-off. Time you in­vest into looks is time you take away from some­thing else. How could peo­ple who spend their time fan­ta­siz­ing about Star Wars think their time is that im­por­tant? Eliezer Yud­kowsky thinks his time is in­vested into liter­ally sav­ing hu­mankind from ex­tinc­tion and still takes time away from it to in­vest into groom­ing and dress­ing in an okay way and find­ing eye­glasses that match his face, be­cause he knows oth­er­wise his mes­sage will not be taken se­ri­ously enough. It is a wor­thy in­vest­ment. Peo­ple don’t want to listen to some­one with a “crazy sci­en­tist” or similar look. He knows he needs to look like he is sel­l­ing soft­ware, kind of. I don’t think any­one could se­ri­ously think the so­cial gains from a ba­sic okay wardrobe and reg­u­lar bar­ber vis­its do not worth tak­ing some time away from D&D. Obe­sity is of­ten a neck­beard prob­lem too, and it is also un­healthy.

Against2: Okay, but maybe they ei­ther do not re­al­ize it, due to some kind of so­cial blind­ness, or lack the abil­ity to figure out how to look in a way that so­ciety ap­proves. Chalk it up to poor so­cial skills, not self-ha­tred?

Pro2: The heroes suffer­ing nerds fan­ta­size about ac­tu­ally look good in their own fan­tasy world. Often even in the real one. In the sense that Su­per­man was a good look­ing jour­nal­ist when he was not Su­per­man and even Peter Parker be­ing bor­der­line okay, and most fan­tasy heroes look like some­one who is ap­pro­pri­ate in that so­cial cir­cum­stance (sim­plified/​hero­ized/​san­i­tized/​mythol­o­gized Euro­pean mid­dle ages). First of all they are not fat and rather mus­cu­lar, they are well groomed, and so on. Suffer­ing nerds don’t even imi­tate their own heroes. Although some­one try­ing to look like Aragorn would be weird to­day, ba­si­cally be­ing a tall and mus­cu­lar guy with a long hair and short cropped, well groomed beard and maybe leather clothes would look like a biker rocker, which is leaps and bounds cooler in so­ciety’s eyes than an obese neck­beard with greasy hair and Tux t-shirt with dirty baggy jeans and dirt­ier sneak­ers. If nerds would re­ally try to look like fan­tasy heroes, the would be more pop­u­lar. But they look more like, they feel don’t de­serve to im­prove their looks. But there is also some­thing more:

C) When they some­times im­prove their looks, this does not come ac­cross as im­prov­ing their real selves or find­ing some­thing that matches who they are, rather as a sym­bolic imi­ta­tion of an en­tirely differ­ent per­son. A good ex­am­ple is the fe­dora, which sym­bol­izes an old fash­ioned gen­tle­man in 1950 which does not match the rest of their clothes or the fact it is not 1950. This sug­gests self-ha­tred.

Against1: Doesn’t it con­tra­dict the pre­vi­ous point?

Pro1: I think it strenght­ens it. Any guy with a fe­dora or some­thing like that can­not be said to be un­in­ter­ested in looks, and mis­judg­ing what so­ciety con­sid­ers to be at­trac­tive can­not pos­si­ble mean you wear Dick Tracy’s hat but not his suit, mus­cles, lack of paunch, and lack of neck­beard. I think it is more of a sym­bol that I don’t want to be me, I want to be some­one to­tally differ­ent.


Against1: fine, neck­beards hate them­selves and dream about be­ing some­one else. How do we know it is the source of their prob­lems, and not an effect? How about lack of so­cio-sex­ual suc­cess mak­ing them both suffer­ing and self-hat­ing and they re­act to this like that?

Pro1: we don’t, and it is a good point, some­thing like autism may play a role. So­cio-sex­ual suc­cess, be­ing bor­der­line “cool” or at least ac­cepted is some­thing not ex­actly bright high school dropouts can figure out, how comes of­ten highly in­tel­li­gent men can­not? In­deed, autism or Asperger may play a role. How­ever there are charm­ing, sexy peo­ple on the spec­trum, this can­not pos­si­ble be the cause. Be­sides cer­tain symp­toms over­lap with self-ha­tred: if some­one avoids eye con­tact, how to know if it comes from their Asperger syn­drome or from self-ha­tred mak­ing them afraid to meet a gaze di­rectly and rather want­ing to hide from other peo­ple’s eyes? Can­not ob­ses­sive ten­den­cies be a way to avoid think­ing about one’s own self? It is en­tirely pos­si­ble that many men on the spec­trum de­vel­oped a self-ha­tred due to the bul­ly­ing the re­ceived for be­ing on the spec­trum and much of their prob­lems come from that. One thing is clear—what­ever other rea­sons there are for lack­ing so­cio-sex­ual suc­cess, the above char­ac­ter­is­tics make the situ­a­tion much worse.

Against2: Satoshi Kanazawa ar­gued high IQ sup­presses in­stincts and makes you ba­si­cally lack “com­mon sense”. Maybe it is just that?

Pro2: Yes. But the in­stinct in ques­tion is not sim­ply ba­sic so­cial skills. I will get back to this.

Against3: Paul Gra­ham wrote nerds are un­pop­u­lar be­cause they sim­ply don’t want to in­vest into be­ing pop­u­lar, hav­ing other in­ter­ests.

Pro3: This seems to be true for non-suffer­ing nerds. Pri­mar­ily the nerds who are into this-wor­ldly, pro­duc­tive, STEM stuff. Why care about fash­ion­able clothes when you are learn­ing fas­ci­nat­ing things like physics? Slightly ir­ri­tated about the su­perfi­cial­ity of other peo­ple, the non-suffer­ing nerd gets a zero-main­te­nance buzz cut and 7 polo shirts of the same ba­sic color of a brand a ran­dom cute look­ing girl has recom­mended, so that he does not have to think about what to put on, and has a pre­sentable look with min­i­mal effort. Of course we know “neck­beards”, “omegas” don’t look like that. Much worse. Suffer­ing nerds seem to have deeper prob­lems than not want­ing to in­vest a min­i­mal amount of time into their looks. Be­sides, look at their in­ter­ests. STEM nerds are into things that are use­ful in this to­day’s real world. D&D nerds want to es­cape it.

Against4: Testos­terone?

Pro4: Plays a role both ways, see be­low.

The cause of self-ha­tred

Other peo­ple de­spis­ing you. Sooner or later you in­ter­nal­ize it. There could be many causes for that… some­times par­ents of the kind who always tell their kids they suck. Some peo­ple hit walls like racism or ho­mo­pho­bia… some peo­ple get picked on as kids be­cause they are dis­abled or dis­figured.

Ac­tu­ally this lat­est is a good clue and a good proof of we are on a good track with this here. I cer­tainly have seen an above-av­er­age % of dis­abled or dis­figured youths play­ing D&D. It seems if you are a text­book tar­get for bul­ly­ing, if other kids tell you you are a worth­less piece of fe­ces in var­i­ous ways for years, you will want to es­cape into a fan­tasy where you are a wiz­ard cast­ing fire­balls burn­ing the mea­nines to death. So we are get­ting a clue about what may cause this self-ha­tred.

How­ever in my ex­pe­rience sim­ply be­ing a weak or cow­ardly boy causes the same shit­storm of bul­ly­ing, hu­mil­i­a­tions, and beat­ings. Kids are cruel. It is ba­si­cally a bru­tal form of set­ting up a dom­i­nance hi­er­ar­chy by try­ing to tor­ture ev­ery­body, those who don’t even dare to re­sist get as­signed the low­est rank, those who try and fail only slightly higher, and the bravest, bold­erst, cru­elest, most ag­gres­sive fighters be­ing on top. And in­tel­li­gence may be an ob­sta­cle here by sup­press­ing your fight­ing in­stinct.

Be­ing bul­lied into the low­est level of so­cial rank ba­si­cally de­stroys your serum test­s­terone lev­els. It also makes you de­pressed. Both de­pend on your rank in the peck­ing or­der. Low-T com­bined with de­pres­sion is prob­a­bly some­thing re­ally close to what I call “self-ha­tred”, since high-T is of­ten un­der­stood as pride and con­fi­dence, so the op­po­site of it is prob­a­bly shame and sub­mis­sive­ness, and SSC wrote de­pressed peo­ple who are suici­dial of­ten say “I feel I am a bur­den” i.e. you are not wor­thy to oth­ers, a li­a­bil­ity, not an as­set. Shame, sub­mis­sive­ness and feel­ing worth­less is pre­cisely what I called self-ha­tred.

Thus these two well-doc­u­mented as­pects of get­ting a low so­cial rank already cause some­thing akin to self-ha­tred, but I think it is also im­por­tant how it hap­pens in child­hood. If it would be sim­ply kids e.g. re­spect­ing those with higher grades, or richer par­ents more but still be­hav­ing bor­der­line po­lite with ev­ery­body, the way how adults do it, I think it would be less of an is­sue. Kids, boys, how­ever, es­tab­lish so­cial rank with bru­tal beat­ings, hu­mil­i­a­tion, bul­ly­ing, and mak­ing sure the other boy got the “you suck” mes­sage driven in with a sledge­ham­mer. A text­book ex­am­ple of the “wedgie” which Wiki calls a prank: http://​​en.wikipe­​​wiki/​​Wedgie and per­haps it is pos­si­ble to do it in harm­less pranky that way, too, but when four mus­cu­lar boys boys cap­ture a weak, scared, squeal­ing one in the toi­let, im­mo­bi­lize him, and give him an atomic one then force him to walk out like that so that ev­ery­body can laugh at his hu­mil­i­a­tion, this is no prank. This is the mes­sage ham­mered in: you suck, you are worth­less, you are hel­pless, you are no man, you got no balls, we do what­ever we want to you and you have no “figther rank” what­so­ever, you did not even try to defend your­self. And I have seen many such events when I was a child.

Against1: Ouch. But is this re­ally about fight­ing abil­ity? Don’t you think other ways how kids rank each other, rank their pop­u­lar­ity mat­ters, es­pe­cially in mod­ern schools where fight­ing is strictly for­bid­den and surveillance is strong?

Pro1: not 100% sure. After all they do it team­ing up. It is perfectly pos­si­ble that if a brown skinned boy and a bunch of racist class­mates in­ter­acted it would be the same for him even if he is strong and does MMA. Still… in my ex­pe­rience, it was usu­ally about that. I mean, not about what karate belt you have, it was more like test­ing your mas­culinity, like courage, ag­gres­sion, strength. If you are “man enough” they would re­spect you and leave you alone, ba­si­cally as­sign­ing a higher rank. The whole thing felt like test­ing what­ever I later learned about testos­terone lev­els, both pre­na­tal and serum. It seems bul­lies were try­ing to sniff out weak­ness, both emo­tional and phys­i­cal, and T is the best pre­dic­tor to a com­bi­na­tion of both. For ex­am­ple, the worst thing was to cry, you got called a girly boy and bul­lied even more, get the low­est pos­si­ble rank. Surely boys be­ing raised in pa­tri­archi­cal and ho­mo­pho­bic cul­tures had some­thing to do with it, but the whole thing still re­minded me of some­thing biolog­i­cal like rein­deer “lock­ing horns”. I think if there is ever such a thing as males es­tab­lish­ing a dom­i­nance hi­er­ar­chy largely through test­ing each oth­ers pre­na­tal or serum testos­terone i.e. manly courage and strength and fierce­ness, it was that.

But I also find it likely be­ing “differ­ent” in any way, race, sex­u­al­ity, dis­abil­ity, must have made you much more of a tar­get.

Ob­vi­ously this re­flects the val­ues of so­ciety, too. In Rus­sia even grown up sol­diers and prison in­mates do this, which prob­a­bly re­flects the highly toxic-mas­culinity val­ues they have or the op­pres­sion they them­selves re­ceive from officers, or even formerly from fathers. Two fas­ci­nat­ing links: http://​​en.wikipe­​​wiki/​​De­dovshchina http://​​en.wikipe­​​wiki/​​Thief_in_law#Pony­atiya so you can imag­ine what goes on in schools. And yes, on the other hand grow­ing up in a text­book NY liberal com­mu­nity must be a lot eas­ier in this re­gard. Most of Europe will be some­where in be­tween.

Against1: So, your ar­gu­ment is that bul­ly­ing de­stroys your self-re­spect much more than any other way of achiev­ing a low so­cial rank, and this leads to self-ha­tred, which leads to fan­tasy es­capism and typ­i­cal nerd-neck­beard be­hav­iors, which then adds up and re­sults in the lack of so­cio-sex­ual suc­cess? Isn’t it a job for Oc­cam’s ra­zor?

Pro1: well, the ar­gu­ment is more like, what­ever hap­pens with you in your child­hood is very im­por­tant, boys tend to es­tab­lish rank by bul­ly­ing and fight­ing or even in the best case, by test­ing each oth­ers courage and mas­culinity by other means, dar­ing each other to climb trees etc. My point is, not sim­ply that bul­ly­ing or even child­hood bul­ly­ing mat­ters so much, my point is rather that bul­ly­ing or courage tests in child­hood make you re­al­ize the fact that in­deed you are lack­ing in im­por­tant mas­culine abil­ities like courage, fierce­ness or strength, so prob­a­bly low pre­na­tal T, and low so­cial rank es­tab­lished via this cuts much deeper in a man’s soul than sim­ply low so­cial rank be­cause you are poor or get bad grades. It af­firms you don’t worth much as a man and this makes you hate your­self much more than sim­ply in­ter­nal­iz­ing that you are poor or some­thing like that. This alone—such as the de­pressed T lev­els and gen­eral de­pres­sion due to low so­cial rank—could ex­plain the suffer­ing and lack of later so­cio-sex­ual suc­cess of nerds, but the fan­tasy-es­capism as a cop­ing method makes it worse. Without that, nerds, neck­beards would not be a not­i­ca­ble and much ridiculed type—with­out that, all you would see is that some guys are kind of sad and timid, but oth­er­wise look and be­have like all the other guys!

Against1: do you think anti-bul­ly­ing poli­cies could solve “neck­beards” for the next gen­er­a­tion ?

Pro1: Try­ing to make peo­ple be­have less cruel is ought to re­duce the suffer­ing of the vic­tims and a good thing. Hav­ing said that, while this de­mo­graphic I am talk­ing about would suffer less vic­tim­iza­tion as a child, I am not en­tirely con­vinced they would end up with much less self-ha­tred and bet­ter so­cio-sex­ual suc­cess, thus less adult suffer­ing. Why? Be­cause my the­sis is not that vic­tim­iza­tion hurts, ob­vi­ously it does, my the­sis is that be­ing truly, in­deed, ac­tu­ally less mas­culine than other boys and hav­ing your nose rubbed into it so that you re­al­ize you are in­deed not much of a man is what gen­er­ates self-ha­tred, per­haps par­tially due to biol­ogy and par­tially to pa­tri­archy, I don’t know why. I mean, the bul­lies are eth­i­cally wrong, but truth­fully right—they bully you be­cause you are in­deed weak, in emo­tion or body, and you hate your­self for be­ing in­deed, truly weak. So for ex­am­ple some­thing as light as not dar­ing to climb a rope dur­ing gym class and the other boys giv­ing you a con­temp­tu­ous look could de­stroy your self-re­spect here, es­pe­cially if af­ter­wards you are in­ter­acted with as a low-rank so­cial pariah. And this is not some­thing the anti-bul­ly­ing teach­ers can solve. Per­haps you can try to pres­sure boys to not judge each oth­ers for courage, not ex­press it so, never treat any­one like a so­cial out­cast etc. but it would be a lot like try­ing to de­stroy their mas­culinity too, try­ing to de­stroy that com­peti­titve, dom­i­nant, judge­men­tal spirit that is so strongly linked to testos­terone. I don’t think it can suc­ceed and I don’t think it would be eth­i­cal to try do so. This is what they are. You can teach them to ex­press their views in less agres­sive ways, but hu­man free­dom means if you want to frown be­cause you think an­other guys suck, you can. Nev­er­the­less, still it is good to not tol­er­ate bul­lies, it is bet­ter to force high-To boys to ex­press their con­tempt in more civ­i­lized ways, to re­duce the suffer­ing of their vic­tims, just don’t ex­pect it pre­vents later “nerd prob­lems”.

Against1: I am still not con­vinced other forms of dis­crim­i­na­tion or low so­cial rank do not gen­er­ate more self-ha­tred.

Pro1: Well, just look at those Amer­i­can blacks who are both poor and black, both giv­ing them a lower so­cial rank at school, and end up be­ing gangsta-rap­pers or even crim­i­nal in­mates, but still strong, tat­tooed, mas­culine as hell, re­ally the op­po­site of neck­beards-nerds who typ­i­cally have char­ac­ter­is­tics that are con­sid­ered un­mas­culine. It seems you could be bul­lyed for many a thing, but ap­par­ently nerdi­ness, neck­beardery tends to be formed when it is speci­fi­cally your lack of a mas­culine fighter spirit that made you a tar­get.

Against1: Any ways to eas­ily test all this?

Pro1: Yes. Ask your neck­beard friend to con­sent to a test that will not be phys­i­cally harm­ful but may cause emo­tional trig­ger­ing. Then pre­tend to slap or munch him in the face. Do you get a pan­icky, ner­vous re­ac­tion, like turtling up and blink­ing, or you get a “manly” one like lean­ing back and catch­ing your hand? This pre­dicts if he is used to fight­ing back, or used to get­ting beaten and not dar­ing to fight.

The cure

How to fix all this? Well, I have found that some neck­beards have man­aged to fix them­selves to a cer­tain ex­tent with­out re­ally even plan­ning to, via the fol­low­ing means:

- Ca­reer suc­cess giv­ing you a cer­tain sense of so­cial rank and self-con­fi­dence. Be­ing higher on the so­cial lad­der in­creases testos­terone, which also gets you the feed­back from oth­ers and your­self that you are less un­mas­culine now, which makes you hate your­self for be­ing un­mas­culine less.

- Dur­ing ca­reer, many neck­beards did the same thing as Eliezer and opted for a sim­ple, easy smart-ca­sual wardrobe and bet­ter groomed in a low-main­te­nance way. This im­proved feed­back from oth­ers and thus their con­fi­dence.

- It seems sports, mar­tial arts, to some ex­tent even ba­sic body build­ing helped many a man.

- All this led to bet­ter self-ac­cep­tance.

But let’s try to go deeper here.

Neck­beards need to find self-re­spect WHILE ac­cept­ing they are in­tel­lec­tu­als. The goal is nei­ther to ac­cept your­self the way you are—they way you cur­rently are sucks—nor to hate your­self so much that you do not feel you de­serve to be im­proved and thus pro­ject­ing a false pub­lic image. The goal is to self-im­prove WHILE ac­cept­ing you are an in­tel­lec­tual.

Step 1 is to re­al­ize that it is not in­tel­lec­tu­al­ism that makes peo­ple marginal­ized, ridiculed, and un­able to find girlfriends. It is the lack of other skills than in­tel­lec­tual ones, largely, the lack of mas­culine virtues. Here the idea of a writer is a use­ful men­tal crutch: you as a neck­beard are prob­a­bly a vo­ra­cious reader, think­ing you are made from the same ma­te­rial writ­ers are made from is not en­tirely wrong, it is re­al­is­tic, it is close enough to your real self or essence. As a vo­ra­cious reader, you are as to writ­ers what power users are to pro­gram­mers. Close enough. It is not a fake per­sona for you if you make some writ­ers your role mod­els: you both are in­tel­lec­tu­als in essence. And yes, sexy, mas­culine, so­cially and sex­u­ally suc­ces­ful male writ­ers ex­ist: Richard Dawk­ins, Robert Hein­lein, Albert Ca­mus. Shap­ing your­self af­ter them is both true to your real self and a way to im­prove your­self.

The ba­sics are not hard.

- Sports (more about it later)

- Smart ca­sual wardrobe, nice low main­te­nance hair­cut, fa­cial hair prob­a­bly to be com­pletely avoided un­til you learn more about style. That is an ad­vanced level mile­stone, post­pone it.

- Drop­ping a nuke on your so­cial shy­ness by join­ing Toast­mas­ters—a writer should be able to give a speech on a podium? Toast­mas­ters In­ter­na­tional (and the later is not just a name, they are in Europe etc. too) says on the can that they are about pub­lic speak­ing skills, which is true, but pub­lic speak­ing is sim­ply the hard­est kind of speak­ing for in­tro­verted, shy, or self-hat­ing peo­ple, go through the Comm man­ual giv­ing the 10 speeches, par­ti­ci­pate in table top­ics, and com­pared to that 1:1 so­cial­iz­ing or chat­ting will be easy.

- One more thing you need to learn there, namely to de­velop a gen­uine in­ter­est in other peo­ple and not just ob­ses­sively talk about your in­ter­ests to them, but also be in­ter­ested in their stuff, or even in small talk. This is an­noy­ing, but once you get a bit used to it, you re­al­ize that you are gain­ing val­i­da­tion from re­spectable look­ing peo­ple choos­ing to dis­cuss the weather or similar stupid top­ics with you. If they “wasted” a minute or two on a worth­less topic with you, then per­haps it is your own per­son that is not worth­less for them. This helps with the self-ha­tred is­sue. Toast­mas­ters tends to be very good at this. Old time mem­bers are happy to chat with new­bies just about any­thing, be­cause these meet­ings are marked as com­mu­ni­cate, com­mu­ni­cate, com­mu­ni­cate in their cal­en­dar.

- Ther­apy, fo­cus­ing on your child­hood bul­ly­ing for be­ing per­ceived weak and cow­ardly, or gen­eral feed­backs about be­ing less mas­culine. Well, this is one of the ad­vices that is al­most use­less, be­cause if you are the type of guy who goes to shrinks you have did it long ago and if you are the type who would not go near a shrink un­less bor­der­line suici­dial you won’t take this ad­vice, but it sim­ply had to be given, for the sake of my con­science more than for your benefit.

- So, back to sports. Yes, you need to get in shape. But also you need to con­vince your in­ner boy that you could not be bul­lied, beaten, your mas­culinity bru­tally challenged and your self hu­mil­i­ated and op­pressed any­more. You need to com­pen­sate, and do it hard. There are three schools of thought here. Many peo­ple recom­mend gym type body-build­ing, weight-lift­ing. On one hand it is good, on the other hand it can make you feel fake: you feel you look like a fighter, but you feel you are still a timid, cow­ardly boy in­side and it makes you feel fak­ing it. It works bet­ter at 17, when you are more su­perfi­cial, it does not work at 40. A sec­ond school says mar­tial arts, and in­deed there are many a neck­beard in the lo­cal karate dojo, the is­sue is, that do­ing katas and ku­mite of the kind that stops at the first suc­ces­ful hit is still not fight­ing. It is not go­ing through figther moves that you need. It is to awaken a raw sense of mas­culinity in you, to face your fears and over­come them, and feel courage and fierce­ness. You need to get in touch with your in­ner an­i­mal a bit, and that is not karate. I recom­mend box­ing. A light box­ing spar­ring—done af­ter about 6 months—is the clos­est thing to simu­lat­ing some­one re­ally try­ing to beat you. Not at full force, but your op­po­nent is re­ally lauch­ing a hun­drend punches right in your face. This is why box­ing has this rules. This is why it was a pri­mary way to teach Bri­tish in­tel­lec­tual boys to man up. It is not sup­posed to teach you street fight­ing tech­niques. It is sup­posed to help you con­quer your fears and find your courage, your in­ner fierce an­i­mal with bared fangs, by fo­cus­ing on the kinds of at­tacks that are most fear­some: punches right into your face. A grap­pling lock or MMA thigh kick may im­mo­bi­lize or hurt you, and they are effec­tive at fight­ing, but they are not as effec­tive at scar­ing peo­ple. This is the whole point. You need to get scared many times, un­til you learn courage. Box­ing is courage train­ing. And courage, not strength or skill, is what makes a man—and what makes an ex-un­manly-boy not hate him­self.

So­cially speak­ing, anti-bul­ly­ing and re­duc­ing the worst as­pects of toxic mas­culinity or highly pa­tri­archi­cal val­ues should help but be care­ful! Nat­u­ral born high-T bul­lies fly un­der the radar much more than bul­lied nerds who are try­ing to man up and thus do­ing spec­tac­u­larly manly things. Do it the wrong way around, and you end up hand­i­cap­ping pre­cisely those you are try­ing to help! Any­one who ob­sesses about guns, MMA or chop­pers, while wear­ing fa­tigues and Tapout tees are not the mas­culine bul­lies: they are the nerds try­ing to cope with not ac­tu­ally be­ing or not hav­ing been mas­culine. While this is a ques­tion­able way to cope, it is not them you want to hand­i­cap, so if you want to fight toxic mas­culinity or pa­tri­archy, do NOT fo­cus on its low­est hang­ing fruits! The true bul­lies don’t do these, they don’t need to.