Thursday, July 23, 2009

The "Neg"

I’ve been reading a bunch of Conor Friedersdorf, who blogs over at True/Slant and is one of the staffers filling in for Andrew Sullivan on vacation. His post today, called out on The Daily Dish, is about the pick-up artist scene, and the very controversial “neg”, a negative statement used to pick on the girl in question as a way to lower her defenses. Conor spotlights a blog a week, and he is fascinated by one Sebastian Flyte, a 23 year-old Libra who blogged regularly about his escapades picking up women.

I am familiar enough with the popularity of this scene, partly because my brother is somewhat of a disciple. I have flipped through Neil Strauss’ The Game (known as “The Bible” to some, and it could pass for it, bound in black leather), read (and loved) I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, and have had a few conversations on the topic. I’ve also been on the receiving end of quite a few negative statements.

Most people hearing about the technique for the first time are appalled. Of course it’s horrible! Any sort of dating trick—and the use of deception, which we all use, whether we characterize it that way or not—can be seen as terrible, immoral even. If dating is a game and everyone wants to play, of course you are out to win! Conor understands this:

I suspect that often our judgments about kosher behavior depends as much on who is involved as the specific scenario in question. A friend comes to us for advice about how to handle an awkward situation wherein she's inadvertently scheduled two dates for the same day -- and knowing she is generally an upstanding person, we laugh, sympathize, and help her formulate a solution, whereas if we were on a date with a women who deceived us about having another date immediately following ours -- or even worse, a guy our sister was dating pulled the same stunt -- the whole moral situation would seem to us entirely different.
People tend not to flip circumstances and examine their behavior if things were different. That’s because a lot of times it forces black-and-white situations into a gray zone, or merely reduces the justifications for your own behavior, because you wouldn’t want to deal with this crap if it was fostered on you. But people react out of anger, spite, and selfishness, so that’s why many so rarely seek to look at other angles.

But, I can sort of see why the neg works. Sometimes. People, when faced with a criticism, will often try to change it (if it can be changed), in order to prevent the issue from occurring, even if they do not like the person making the comment. The negative statement will reverberate back, insidiously creeping into our consciousness at random times. It doesn’t necessarily matter how true the comment is, or even if we disregard the statement—sometimes it comes back. If we are told we look angry, we will immediately try to soften our look, to prove the other person wrong.


Emily said...

Dave loves Tucker Max. He can't wait for the movie of his book to come out. He also has that book signed.

I never gave Tucker Max a real chance, but that's mostly because I don't want to- although I sorta hate him a little bit. I wonder, does this negative thing really work on women? If a guy tried to offer me some type of "criticism" at a bar, I can just imagine the disgusted look I'd give him before walking away.

I never really understood why people take part in The Game. If you like someone, why not just tell them? If you want to call, why not just call? It would just save so much time and frustration- although I guess that's part of the fun for some people.

Conor was right in that there is always some deception. Make up, Spanx, push up bras, Axe body spray. But the lengths some men go to to learn and study how to deceive women and "lower their defenses" can get a bit creepy- it's why we have to have defenses up in the first place!

mikhailbakunin said...

You're a poor writer and this post is stupid.

Just kidding. :)

I'd really like to see some sort of study done. I just can't imagine this being a successful strategy . . .

MediaMaven said...

Tucker Max is very polarizing, and I'm pretty sure that you (and many of my friends) would hate him. I find him hilarious, if at times utterly appalling, but that is his charm. I would never, ever date a guy like him, but he's fun to read for his outrageous stories. His genius is that he was smart enough to record his escapades. I, too, am waiting for the movie--which could very well suck massively and misread the tone of the book, merely becoming nothing more than a crass, sexist piece of filth.

I'm with you, Emily, in that I know immediately how I'd react to such offensive statements if directed at me by a stranger, and a look of disgust would be the least of it. But then, I'm also an advocate of being straightforward.

So, Mikhail, what's been your strategy (if you have one)? Formal studies would be interesting, but The Game and it's ilk that's mined a lot of psychological data and whatnot, even if warping it to fit its own agenda.