05-22-13 - A Sad Change in Nerd-dom

In the last 10 years or so I've witnessed a transformation of many of my nerd friends which makes me sad.

Ten years ago I had a lot of peers that were shy, dorky, a bit naive, really "uncool" in larger society - but they were earnest, super sweet, straightforward. I thought they were wonderful, innocents in a way, not playing the games that you need to play to get ahead in the real world. They thought you could approach girls by just being honestly interested (or they were too scared to approach at all); they thought that if you worked hard for your employer, your employer would treat you well. I'm sure they were frustrated and miserable but they were fundamentally good people that I would have no qualms about recommending to someone else.

In the last ten years almost all of my sweet, earnest dorky friends have disappeared. They've become people who are much cleverer about the way the world really works. Some of them have actively studied PUA, others have just suffered enough injustice from employers and the shitty world that they started being more self-protective and watching out for their own best interests. They've all lost that open straightforward look in their eyes, and it's been replaced by a more calculating "what can I get for myself out of this situation".

I'm sure they are much more "successful" now (measured in a shallow physical way), and probably just happier, but to me it's a sad change.

It is brutally hard to be idealistic. You watch everyone around you be super shitty to eachother all the time, and some of the shittiest most selfish people are greatly successful because of it. You feel really dumb about being idealistic when there seems to be no reward in the real world. But just because it's hard and painful doesn't mean you stop doing it; many of the best things in life are hard and painful.

In general in nerd-dom there has been an adoption of "realism" in the last 10 years, and I think it sucks. (realism in the 1960's Rand corporation sense)

Nerds now look at the world around them and think, how can I use my brain to get the riches of life. I felt like in my youth nerd-dom was very idealistic; the goal was not riches, it was making a great discovery, which you would of course share with the world for free because discoveries are not owned by anyone; using tricks to seduce women or make advantageous business contracts was simply not in the nerd's reach, and considered to be part of the scummy non-nerd world. That's all gone and now nerds are only interested in using their abilities to climb the same stupid ladder as the normals.

I certainly have had my own dabbles with realism. At some point you get frustrated, seeing all these asshole normals around you being so "successful", and you decide you want the things that they are able to get, and you use the only asset that you have as a nerd (your brain) to figure out how to get it. And it works. But I don't believe that it's a good way to live. Being self-interested and acting in a way that maximizes your own return is fundamentally a shallow, lonely, cold way to live. It's not admirable, in fact it's rather despicable.

There is a middle ground, which I am striving for these days. It's to try to be the person that you want to be, to act as if the world was the way you wish it would be, but also to be aware of how the world really works and don't put yourself in situations where the logical disconnect between reality and your ideal are too great. That is, seek out situations where being your ideal self is not too big of a penalty; eg. if you're considering two jobs, and in one of them you would really have to be a big political backstabber to get ahead, and the appearance of working hard would be rewarded more than actual good work - then don't choose that job, even if it might be better for you if you did play the game.