It’s a story consistent with things you’ve read here on Red Quest, although few people probably want to “constantly troll people, and get them to hate you with a passion.” Instead of trolling people and getting them to hate you, it might be better to try and be right, and to grow, but the most interesting parts concern Hanania’s introduction to THE GAME, which goes beyond the game…
While in college, I read The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists. The author was Neil Strauss, a journalist who as a New York Times columnist had achieved some level of professional success but had bad luck in his dating life. He started out by doing research on the “seduction community,” a group of men that in the early days of the internet got together to figure out how to meet and attract women
THE GAME is still the introduction many of us have to the game. Evolutionary biology underlies the game…
I’d already read a bit of evolutionary psychology, and this theory made perfect sense to me.
For someone living in a modern first world country, the most important downsides to risk are gone. No matter how much you fail at life, unless you join an inner-city gang or overdose on fentanyl you’re probably not going to die as a result of your mistakes. We’ve eliminated starvation, and rates of violence are a fraction of what they were in previous centuries and especially our deep evolutionary past. Instead of living in a parochial village in which any wrong step can follow one around forever, we live in the immediate vicinity of millions of people and can pick and choose which relationships to cultivate. The things we feel nervous about on a daily basis like someone making fun of us on Twitter or a romantic rejection are treated by our defective brains as issues of life and death, when in reality they matter very little. At the same time, the potential upsides to taking risk – money, power, sex – are all still there for the taking.
The focus on evolutionary biology is also something you’ve seen on Red Quest. But the emphasis on anxiety and appropriate risk are novel and I’ve not seen them stated the way Hanania presents them. He goes overboard, because your status still matters for many social groups, hiring organizations, etc., and there are still some downsides to risk: while you are “probably not going to die as a result of your mistakes,” social isolation still sucks, and most people who claim not to give a f**k, as Hanania does, aren’t successful independent Substackers; they’re unable to advance in their careers and lives. But he is right that, in reality, many of the social things that obsess us “matter very little,” and there are asymmetrically positive rewards to learning how to ignore minor rejections. Hanania’s last section, “Applied Anxiety Minimization,” pulls back from the grander claims in his first and second section. As a writer he appears to like being a provocateur (something I may empathize with…), but his essay is directionally correct and also of interest to those of us who deliberately practice the game.
He also has a section about how the modern focus on “mental health” is detrimental to mental health…
If we told people that fear of flying was something everyone struggles with, that it was the result of what others have done to them, or structural racism or whatever, I’m sure we’d get more of it. Imagine further if TV, music, and movies taught kids that fear of flying made them deep and interesting, and schools and universities had fear of flying awareness weeks. This is pretty much the modern approach to mental illness. Our tendency to discount the benefits of exposure as a natural way to reduce anxiety and naïve faith in the professional management of the human psyche help explain mistakes in how we have responded to covid. It’s been a massive experiment in which we have taken away people’s ability to socialize normally with others – and no, doing so while wearing a mask is not anywhere near normal – with predictably disastrous results.
I’ve not been able to articulate the problem this way, but what he says is consistent with THE LAST PSYCHIATRIST and the many chicks I’ve heard yammer on about their mental health problems, when in fact they’re overly anxious and simultaneously coddled by the dopey education system. In the absence of real problems their minds invent and focus on bulls**t problems… this cultural tendency is sad, but on my own there is little I can do about it, apart from encouraging chicks, and other people around me, to focus on learning skills and attempting to solve problems of real import. Too much focus on the self is bad, and modern narcissism leads to the modern problem of made-up mental health problems.
Overall the Hanania post is excellent. Mastering the game is useful for interacting with women but also has rewards throughout life. If you haven’t read THE GAME and THE MYSTERY METHOD yet, you should get offline and read the books, which are more comprehensive than what you’ll find most places online. Like dopey girls who think they have “mental health problems,” if you spend too much time online your big problems are probably not learning enough and being too scattered. Being effective is fun, so you should learn how to do it.