Game and group sex, conceived of as hobbies, are rarely (and arguably never) boring. The spikes and crashes are very affecting, creating a lot of turmoil as one succeeds beautifully but also fails hideously. The subject comes up because of:
Marc Andreessen: I think people forget how boring things were before the internet. People really like to be into things. People like to have thing, something that isn’t just like go to work, come home, go to work the next day, change the baby’s diaper today, change the baby’s diaper tomorrow… people like to have a thing.
If you go back thousands of years the thing was the gods, the tribe, the family, whatever cult you were in. If you progress through to the last 2000 years people got super into the big religions, Protestantism, Catholicism, Judaism, Islam and so forth. The rise of mass media, they got super into movies, media, and then some fringe political movements and actual cults. People got super into Scientology. But they were kind of these big movements, and a lot of other people were in them. It was never that distinctive or original to be Catholic or something. It was a marker of identity but it wasn’t a marker of uniqueness in the way that modern man looks for.
There used to be a term for activities that people would do to pass the time before the internet. The term has almost completely died and the term is “hobby.” People used to have hobbies. When I was a kid it was like “what do you do when you get home from work or school, you have a hobby.” And if you remember what hobbies were when I was a kid, it was like stamp and coin collecting. [laughs] It was like ham radio, wood-working. Maybe there were a few people who were into wood-working or stamp collecting and after the first couple months, it’s like “ok it’s just a bunch of stamps in a book, this is boring, onto the next thing.”
The internet has just killed hobbies. They’re dead, all gone, the concept doesn’t even exist. It’s funny, the concept of having a hobby died at the same time as the concept of “going online” was introduced, which is a phrase you heard constantly from 1994-2005. You would get home at night and you would go online. The big internet company in the 1990s was actually America Online; this was a big deal, Americans could go online. And starting in the mid-2000s Americans stopped going online because we’re now online all the time. The idea of not being online now is a weird thing.
Hobbies died when everybody went online. So what replaced hobbies? And to your point, what replaced hobbies was basically internet movements. The benign way to put it would be internet communities, the somewhat more intense way to put it would be internet cults, right? Now what are people into? They’re not into stamp or coin collecting. They’re into socialism online or MAGA or QAnon, or the Trump Russia conspiracy or bitcoin or Elon…
Richard: That sounds awful! [laughing] Compared to socialism or MAGA or QAnon or wokeness and Russiagate, stamp collecting sounds like an improvement!?
Marc: Yeah yeah yeah! But I’d say literally that’s what’s happening. You could paint a picture of that and say these are destructive things and everybody is crazy and all that stuff. You could also say it’s not boring! Things were pretty boring, things were pretty dull. And actually, this would be a right-wing argument. One of the right-wing arguments is that man is simply not meant to be an atomized economic function. Man is not optimized to literally be like a drone, just drifting along the waves of history and to not have a principled position on where he should stand, and not have a sense of identity on something greater than himself, a connection to community and society and all these things.
Having been in longer relationships with women, the longer and deeper relationships can feel stable and comforting, but they’re often boring, too. That’s why chicks are constantly hassling their boyfriends for expensive, out-of-country vacations, because the chick is bored and needs entertainment (which chicks derive almost exclusively from men).
Game is rarely boring though it can be alienating… alienating, because it can facilitate many short-term, shallow relationships, and those come at the expense of long-term relationships. For almost all of human history, virtually all relationships were long term… it should not surprise us that a sudden change to numerous, short-term, successive relationships is jarring to our psychology. In my own life I’ve been in long-term relationships and felt the call of the wild.
Consensual non-monogamy, which is a primary topic of the work you are reading now, tries to be both exciting (new sex partners!) but also grounding (you can have new sex partners while having a primary relationship)… so, you can do some relationship building and some stranger-sex having. This ties into the Internet because “online” of course organizes and facilitates game and non-monogamy: game, in something like its modern form, comes about from guys networking online to trade ideas about how to seduce and f**k chicks. Non-monogamy has gotten more popular because people interested in having intense sex experiences can now find one another, which wasn’t practical pre-Internet. Strangers can go on dates, and a bunch of strangers can converge on a spot for meetups and sex. The Internet facilitates niche interests and communities: it helps people become more extreme, by letting us create mutual reinforcement loops. Whether this is “good” or “bad” probably depends on the community and topic… but it does mean that things like game and group sex can happen.
I disagree with Marc A. in that internet movements didn’t replace hobbies for most people: instead, most people are passively scrolling social media. Maybe that is “the” hobby, but I think of hobbies as being active. It’s easier than ever to learn how to lift weights, but the average person is fatter than ever. Information about how to get laid is easier to acquire than ever but most guys don’t seem to care, preferring, it seems, pr0n and video games, letting the machine become a substitute for the real. The social media thing is so bad that I developed bits about how Instagram is lame, and I’ll use those bits on dates, and the girls will usually agree, and some will even agree that they should stop… but they often say they “can’t.” Sex parties forbid cell phone use, which give them a very “in the moment” feel compared to most of what passes for social life today, in which people are maybe 30% in the moment and 70% waiting for something to happen on their phones. Seriously, talk to girls about what their phones are like, and if you’re close to the girl, you’ll see that she gets like 10 notifications per minute… she is incapable of thinking about anything for more than a few minutes without her phone going off. On some level she knows that’s bad, but she mostly won’t stop herself. And, if she’s hot, she doesn’t need to.
It could be that, before the Internet, a lot of people had sex for lack of anything else to do. Now it’s a more affirmative choice, so there’s less of it, because we can watch other people get laid on Netflix instead. A lot of people choose boring.
Action matters, yet we’ve lost the habit of action. The problem today is almost never a shortage of access or information. We are most often our own worst enemy.