Three weeks is a long time between posts. I can only state that October is always a busy time of year for me in terms of work and hobbies. But it gave me time to think about a topic which has also haunted me for a very long time. It was something I never would have dreamed of when I was in high school and at the start of college, when the Internet was nowhere near the form it would be now. Back then, message boards and even MySpace were brand new things; now, in the age of Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc., it is possible for far more people to connect to each other online like never before. And unfortunately, it has resulted in a lot of very hateful people being able to collectively gather and spread hatred in a manner usually reserved for secret basement meetings or hooded marches.
Even though I created this blog as an exercise in personal healing (to vent some of my life’s frustrations and secret memories and feelings regarding the dating world), I grappled with it for a long time due to many reasons. One of them was a fear that I (and it) would be misunderstood. The ugly secret of the Internet is that if you’re a dateless male virgin like me, there are actually legions of people who you can chat with; the problem is that a very vocal bunch of them have twisted their own frustrations and failings into outward hatred towards women (or any who dare defend them), and their tenacity is horrific. They are bunch I have avoided like the plague, have never sought out, and would never seek out. Yet their very existence not only spreads misery to no end of people (especially women) online, but it also serves as a “dark side” to what I could become if I don’t keep myself in check, and don’t allow bitterness or frustration to cross that line.
Earlier this year in California, there was a massacre at Isla Vista, where six innocents lost their lives and thirteen more were wounded when a pathetic maniac went on a rampage. Killing rampages are sadly common America, but this one seemed to strike different chords in the media because the killer was a staunch misogynist who hated women for failing to sleep with him, and who turned his screed into hatred vented online, and then to violent action. Not since the 1989 Ecole Polytechnique Massacre in Canada was a maniac so blunt in his misogyny as a motive for his action. And all throughout this year, the “#GamerGate” scandal has rocked the Internet and the media as a dedicated band of trolls have devoted their lives to making women who dare speak about video games into nightmares. When even MSNBC and the New York Times have articles about this sort of spectacle, it’s a sign that message board hatred has hit the big time, and that’s not good. For as many wonderful things that the Internet can bring us, it also allows those who hate to connect to each other easier.
My first reaction is of course concern for the victims, of the countless women who have to live in fear of maniacs like this whether on the street or even checking their emails or Facebook pages, or who dare to date online. My second reaction is a chilling sensation that runs down my spine every time one of those maniacs seems to be exposed or take their screed to a new and dangerous level. Every time I am exposed to a report on one of these subhumans, and their motivations are of course broadcast, I shudder because I know I share more links to those sorts of “profiles” than I want to. There are times I feel myself on the edge of frustration and bitterness, where I have felt feelings of anger or resentment at life. I hate admitting it, but my lot in life gives me more understanding (but not sympathy) for those types of haters than I wish. I understand the pressures this society inflicts on men to “score”, on how those who don’t are belittled or made to feel weak or defective, where being a virgin past a certain age is a shame so awful that it can never be revealed, and how years, if not decades, of rejection and loneliness can become twisted into something much more monstrous. And the very link between myself and some of these monsters is a link I hate to acknowledge.
It makes me look into myself and wonder why and how I am different. Is it because I am a better person? Because I still try to respect women no matter what? That I believe in treating others as I’d like to be treated? That trashing women who dare to like “geeky things” like comics or video games only reinforces all sorts of ugly stereotypes about the guys who are into such things? Or is it because I am a coward, because I don’t want to admit things to myself, because I am hardwired for whatever reason to turn hatred inward instead of outward? If I am rejected by a woman, I don’t hate the woman; I hate myself for being a loser. Is the line between me and those monsters one of nobility, or just because I’m a crippled introvert? I strive to be the best person I can be, but I also know my own faults too well. I hate to think that there could ever be something inside of me that could snap. I hate there being any degrees of connection to myself and such maniacs.
Of course, I know all of this leads back to the misogyny of society, and how little it values women and how little men seem to be taught to value them compared to themselves or other men. I encounter such things all the time, to the point that it creates a wall of separation between myself and acquaintances (or even sometimes “friends”) because no matter how any trash talk or locker room chatter may go, there is a line I do not cross, there are beliefs which I feel to be important to me, where I seem alone.
I’ll relate a very recent exchange to try to prove my point. At a cyber cafe that I frequent there is one obnoxious fellow who feels the need to chat with me now and again, despite the fact that I’ve made it plain that I don’t want to be friends with him. He doesn’t know how to take a hint; I’ll dub him “Cafe Dude”. Over the past year, I foolishly engaged in some rare conversation with him so he knows at the very least of my plight of being single. I always knew him to be a creep, but it was this past weekend where a conversation revealed how much of one he was. I will attempt to paraphrase it.
Cafe Dude (or CD): “Yo, have any plans for New Year’s Eve?”
Me: [after all efforts to ignore him fail] “No.”
CD: “Know where I’m going?”
Me. “No, and I don’t care.”
CD: “Budapest. Last week of December I’ll be headin’ out.”
Me: “Good. It’ll be a good week.”
CD: “You should come with me.”
Me: [growing angrier] “No. I haven’t even gone to Vegas with my actual friends.”
CD: “The two of us should go. It’s Budapest, bro. You’re guaranteed to get laid.”
Me: “What, you’re paying for it?”
CD: “No. These girls at these parties, they’re so wasted and they’re going to be all over you.”
Me: [sighing] “That’s not right. If they’re drunk, they can’t say yes or consent to anything.”
CD: [and I swear, this is an exact quote] “They can’t say no.”
Suffice it to say, I was horrified and whatever minor respect I ever would have had for this dude went out the window. His presence already repulsed me, and now it did more so.
Me: [disgusted] “That’s not the same. That’s not a yes.”
CD: [rolling his eyes] “C’mon, man. Let me tell you how it is in real life. These girls are going to be drunk and all over you. You’re going to ask permission when they’re kissing you? Humping you?”
Me. “That’s not the same, and you know it.”
At that point he went on trying to sell me on the price of the trip and whatnot. Then he started lashing into me, saying I was “happy being single” or whatnot because I didn’t want to troll drunk women for cheap lays in other countries. The next day, Cafe Dude was talking about going to cult meetings like Scientology for kicks, and joking about tricking women into such things and then taking pictures of them. I said, literally, “That’s horrible,” to him. All he did was laugh. I’ve since called him “a date rapist” to his face, and he doesn’t seem bothered by it.
And that’s part of why I feel so alone, even if in theory the Internet seems clogged with dateless, bitter male virgins. As much as I would like to have sex or make love, I don’t just see it as flesh to be conquered. I don’t see it as some zero sum game. I don’t hate women for not sleeping with me or see them as lessor beings. I don’t fit in with the men who are actually charming or suave, or can figure out how to interact with women, and at the same time I don’t fit in with the legion of angry internet woman-haters out there. In fact, some of the best friends I have ever had in life have been fully Platonic in nature with some women. I try my best to never give in to hate, to never become one of them. And yet, that only highlights how alone I feel, how much of an alien I feel in this world, and how little of a man I seem to be, if this is what men are supposed to strive to become.
I know those who are bullied often become bullies themselves, and I have striven to never become like that, to never spread misery to others. I just wish that I didn’t have to bottle so much within me, and that I didn’t feel like such a lonely freak.