I post this item with some nervousness, because, kidding aside, I'm not sure I'm totally thrilled with being so highly googleranked for “how to pick up women” (if you don't know what I'm talking about, see the 'stats' in the right column) and this will only make it (much) worse. It seems to me that the Googleranking much more justly belongs to Matthew Yglesias…
But here goes. Today's New York Times contains a somewhat fascinating and repellent first-person article, He Aims! He Shoots! Yes!!, by a guy who wrote a book about a subject clearly near and dear to his own heart—the “seduction industry”, that is guys who are (literally) professional pickup-coaches to other guys.
Researching a book proposed by an editor, I allowed myself to be taken under the wings of the greatest self-proclaimed pickup artists in the world and entered an underground subculture of men dedicated — sometimes to an unhealthy extreme — to figuring out the mystery of the opposite sex.
From New York to London to Croatia — places my reporting took me — many of these men meet off line in groups known as lairs to discuss tactics and techniques before going out to bars and clubs to put their theories to practice.
Leaving aside the obvious issues with any exercise of this sort—objectification, strategic behavior, treating people as means rather than ends only head the list, not to mention the one mentioned in the article (“An extraordinary amount of effort seems to be put forth to achieve something so shallow”)—there's also the thinness of the gruel being peddled: Be confident. Don't seem too needy. Be a little unpleasant especially to beautiful people who are used to getting compliments, it gets their attention.
But perhaps these coaches are on to something, the same something that informs the adage, “Nice guys finish last,” and gave the zing to Groucho Marx's best line about not wanting to join any club that would have a person like him as a member. If the coaches are on to something, though, surely it's something that should be resisted, not extended?