Friday, January 4, 2013

Burn Nice Guys, Burn

Since I never learn when it comes to browsing Jezebel, history repeated itself once again in the form of head scratching over a Jezebel article. Today's curiosity arises from an article “No One is Entitled to Sex: Why We Should Mock the NiceGuys of OkCupid” by Hugo Schwyzer. The title alone is enough to tell us not only will the story be controversial, but the reader commentary should result in a four-alarm blaze. And burn it did along with the fellas in the line of... well, you get the point.

I have to admit, I've never cracked the code to the interrelated topics within the articles I read through at Jezebel. There is mingling of multiple topics which makes it difficult to identify a single issue as the main subject. In the case at hand, what I found consisted of debate about misrepresentation, unreasonable entitlement expectations, discussion of creepy attitudes as well as the belief public humiliation is required. And those are just a few of the points brought out in the threads. Eventually I gave up trying to sort everything out and decided to write my own equally muddied post. I apologize in advance for the disorganized mess I'm writing. Still want to proceed? You're a brave one indeed.

The original driving force for the Jezebel-hosted story involved a Tumblr blog entitled "NiceGuys Of OkCupid", or NGOKC for short. I don't know who the author of the blog was but it contained numerous pictures of guys from a dating site called OkCupid (which may have been a violation of the Tumblr TOS). The commonality shared between the fellas is they proclaim to be nice guys but have written things which are questionable in nature.  Browsing through the Tumblr blog, we are presented with numerous dating profile pictures from the supposed nice guys as well as associated quotes to questions they answered on OkCupid. That's our 40 thousand foot overview. Now on to the meat and potatoes.

Looking at the Jezebel-hosted article by Hugo, it starts off talking about how the "nice guys" have indicated an expectation of unconditional sex for one reason or another. Okay, someone who thinks they are entitled to sex unconditionally is not acceptable. Engaging in sex requires mutual consent on both sides. Anyone expecting otherwise has deeper issues. When expectations moves beyond and into forced demands, then it becomes a transgression punishable by law. If the article(s) simply brought up these points, I would have been agreeable enough with the point of view, but both the NGOKC and the Jezebel article go off on their own tangents.

The NGOKC blog took a stance by posting the photos of individuals from the dating site OkCupid with excerpts of what they said overlaying the photos. The problem with excerpts is the context is not always clear and can be easily misleading or ambiguous. I've answered a number of these questions on OkCupid myself and they are not always clear in what (OkCupid) allows for write-in explanations. The NGOKC blogger then used said write-in explanations to convict the "nice guys" as creeps masquerading as something less sinister. It's not for NGOKC or Hugo Schwyzer to pass public judgment but rather each individual should decide for themselves upon reviewing both sides of the story. Sadly, we only hear one side. As such, I think public ridicule focused on singling out a select group of individuals is a dangerous weapon because it influences the community with the poster's personal judgment.

Another key problem is some of the answer/question pairs involve moral choices that are sure to raise hackles in a sizable segment of the populace no matter how they are answered. More to the point, the NGOKC author has decided his or her viewpoint is the correct viewpoint. To give an example, for anyone who answered yes to “Is there such a thing as having too many sex partners,” the blogger then classified them as a creepy. Why is a person categorized as not nice if they have a differing opinion on this matter of casual sex?  If both sex partners are aware, of consenting age and want casual sex, it's between them and no one else. I fail to see anything establishing a correlation to someone being creepy because they like sex.

Let's look at another example. If you answered the question, “If one of your potential matches was overweight, would that be a deal-breaker?” with yes it was classification criterion for a loser. Hmm, again, people can and should be able to have filter criteria of what they like without being flagged as bums. When women tell me they don't like to date short guys, I don't have to like it but I have no right to vent my anger at them because it's their choice. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Weight, height, gender, race, religion, it is a personal choice. In my case, I am frequently attracted to Asian girls. Does that make me guilty of being a creep who doesn't look at all the potential choices? I might be limiting my options, but it does not make me a cad. When it comes to love--and more so with lust--we don't always use rational logic. At least I don't and I don't know anyone else who does. Actions speak in this case. How we treat others is more telling on this matter, not so much the opinions we state.

Another issue bothering me is how the Jezebel-hosted article from Hugo defends much of what the NGOKC Tumblr blogger is implying. Notably, he indicates these men have potentially violent tempers and need to be kept in check. Furthermore, the NGOKC blog contains questionable implications beneath in implying it is acceptable to mock people when they deserve it. Hugo tries to attach arguments to support this by claiming the Tumblr blog was written as a form of self-preservation. Last time I looked, joining a dating site was not a requirement of life. And as such, a man or woman does not need to be associated with OkCupid to survive. Self-preservation in that case can involve deleting an account if men or women become abusive in their approach. Hell, I deleted my account on OkCupid as a result of some of this. That might make some people happy since I'm out of the dating pool, but it was the easiest way for me to disconnect myself from the rude and arrogant behaviors I was encountering. I didn't like it, so I disconnected. Problem solved without resorting to posting pictures or trying to dox someone.

Okay, so Hugo proceeds to explain how the public beat-down of these not-so-nice guys is a necessary public action. Hmm, beat-downs don't seem valuable to me. Yes, discipline or corrective actions are necessary even for adults. But public humiliation is not the best way to handle the core problem which is more related to personal issues these fellas have. I would imagine much of the frustration these men have is related to feeling powerless in the situation. I understand the feeling well and it is easy to fall prey to. I've succumbed to it many times in the past and am not immune now either. But ultimately, ridiculing someone seems a questionable means of correcting their action. Rather, I suspect it will make these men feel even more disconnected and angry as well as justified in their feelings. A vicious circle never ends unless someone decides to make the buck stop at their hands by taking positive action. But I think Hugo as well as the Tumblr blog author would prefer it to be the Hatfields and McCoys.

Ultimately, we humans are flawed beings. Perfection is on the opposite end of the spectrum. All we need to do is take a road-trip to experience how nasty people can be when they feel disconnected from the situation. Dating sites are no different. Guys and girls can act nastier than they would in person. Public posting pictures of most notably, guys, is a confrontational tactic. Heck, I might very well find myself on their list since they have a “submit” profile button. Am I a nice guy? Sometimes. But it depends upon how much stress I have in my life, how tired I am as well as being influenced by my blood sugar level. Seems I'm off topic again.

By criticizing the Tumblr blogger as well as Hugo Schwyzer's Jezebel article, I run the risk of being called hypocritical. But if I can't openly disagree with something, it becomes a catch-22 situation where silence is the only option. I don't like the sentiment the blogger had nor do I like Hugo's sentiment so I'm going speak out regardless of what others think.

Fundamentally, I disagree with Schwyzer's mindset completely: defending the NGOKC author as using self-preservation tactics simply doesn't hold water. The Tumblr blog was more like a public venting of anger which ended up riling up numerous people. If I had to say one positive thing about Schwyzer's article, it would be that it makes people stop and think. Inflammatory or not, it has served a purpose even if I disagree with much of what it states.

Sadly, I was unable to touch upon many other concerns the Tumblr blog and the Jezebel article raised for me such as vigilantism. In any form, it is dangerous because mob-mentality doesn't subscribe to rational thinking. And as is evident by comments from the Jezebel and Tumblr community, it seems a number of members are supportive of the public ridicule approach in use. But in the end, I can only touch upon so many topic points. And for that matter, I can't convince any of the more staunch supporters of such activities that there is anything questionable about the tactics employed. The best I can do is discuss the issues and hope it causes others to think before they act.

In a follow up, I published a pair of articles I wrote for a dating site which lamented changes in social interaction due to technology. The blog post went over well on the dating site but I doubt the NGOKC blogger or some of the Jezebel denizens would see it as humorously poking fun at modern society. As per the Tumblr blogger, I would most likely be labeled a creepy guy who complains about being ignored. Read it yourself and decide. Perhaps I'm a bit of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Regardless, let the judgment begin. Or not.