Thoughts on Multilevel Marketing, Plus Some Other Advice

In no less than one week, I have come across two of our customers in some sort of multilevel marketing structure. Even my boss at work has tried to get me and my coworkers on board with another multi-level marking thing.


As the economy gets worse in the west and as your opportunities dwindle, you should expect to see more multilevel marketing businesses (though renamed as “network marketing”) popping up all over the place. These companies might not even be scams. They might just be legitimate businesses with an unconventional pay structure, but others are not. Desperation can lead to people throwing skepticism to the wind and jumping headlong into a time and money sink.


In my opinion, most are to be avoided because if the company needed a salesmen then they’d hire a salesmen. There’d be no need for recruitment or some elaborate pay scale for you, your sponsors and the people you sponsor. So judge with caution.


Do they sell The Dream, or the product?


If you go into a seminar, which is proposed to be “exclusive”, and they start the first hour of the presentation talking about how much wealth the speaker has, how many houses they own, and how little time it took to achieve “financial freedom”, without saying anything about the product, then they’re trying to sell you on The Dream and not their business. The product is secondary, or even tertiary. The intent is to hook you with a golden carrot that’s only a few years away so that you’ll get emotionally invested and suppress any logical criticisms you might have.


Reputable companies typically start with their story – how long they’ve been in business, what they do, and where they want to go. The next step is to tell you about the product – why it’s different, better, or worth selling. Their approach is to make you a salesman. Taken to the extreme, this tactic tries to make you into a True Believer of Conglom-O, however even at worst it doesn’t delude you with visions of Maui. Being a salesman is tough. You know this. Companies know this. That’s why they don’t insult your intelligence when you start as a salesmen. They typically tell you what you *could* make, and don’t tell you of the fantastic dreams you can accomplish. That is left up to you. If any company is trying to sell you on a lifestyle rather than a product then it’s time to check your preconceptions.


You are still making someone else money


This is the main criticism that multi-level marketing structures use against your typical employment. By working, you make 30k (or whatever a year) while your company makes 100k from your work. This is supposed to motivate you into working for yourself and make your own money without someone taking a cut over you. Yeah, this sounds good on paper, but 1) it doesn’t jive with how an economy functions and 2) the multi-level marketing structure is STILL making money off you.


This particular condemnation of “making someone else money” I’ve heard many times from those of the Marxist persuasion. The workers work, get a small cut, and the capitalist makes the lion’s share of the fortune. Yeah, this sucks but looking at it another way we see that the capitalist has put millions of dollars of their money on the line in the form of a factory which employs the workers. If the factory goes under, the workers may lose their jobs temporarily but the capitalist loses their fortune. The person making money over you, like the CEO and stockholders, are trying to get their money back after fitting a billion dollar bill to start the company and they take on all the risk. That’s their justification. Call it BS if you want, and I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it simply is what it is.


Joining a multi-level marketing firm doesn’t change this. When you sell a product or recruit someone, the person above you gets a cut, as does the person above them, and the person above them, while you’ve done all the work. This structure incentivizes you not to be a salesmen but a recruiter, so that when the person below you sells something, you get a cut. This is what they mean by “building your business”. All you’re doing is getting people under you who try to recruit people under them. The truth is, someone will always get a cut of your work whether you’re in a cubicle or in multilevel marketing.


Recruitment is the wrong mindset


In order to make the computer or cell phone you’re reading this from, some men had to mine the metals to make the board, drill the oil and process the plastic to make the case, set up and launch the satellites, build the cell phone towers or lay the fiber optic internet cable, and spend years of their time writing the software to host the website. Every link on the chain had to do with someone producing something of value in order to get to this opportunity to consume.


This is the foundation of every economy: production. Not everyone can be a salesman or a recruiter, for someone has to design and make and ship the products. That means you can’t get more people in your network, who will get more people, who will get more people, because the economy needs to get stuff done. It needs people to produce things. Thus, wealth is about producing things of value, not simple setting up a network.


If you want to make real money the way the captains of industry did at the turn of the century then you have to focus on producing something new or better of value. But that’s not so easy. It requires you to have a mindset that’s observant to the needs of the economy, and a truckload of accurate foresight.


These “opportunities” are nothing new


The reason why the wealthy are wealthy is because they’ve searched for every opportunity to acquire assets in order to make them money – assets in real estate, investments, or businesses. Given the amount of time and the number of eyes searching the economy for more sources of wealth, it means that all the great ones are probably exploited already. That is what happens when the economy becomes stagnant. The opportunities for the average man to discover a new venture begin to dwindle as the entrenched wealthy continue to gain their income from their aging businesses.


The only time genuine opportunities arise is when the economy expands or evolves in some radical capacity. For example, if we were to open a portal to another habitable world, the opportunities for being a geologist – a field that has been tapped out to the point of uselessness on Earth – would be highly in demand. Same goes for geographers, scientists, truck drivers, builders, etc. Expansion means more jobs will be in demand. Evolution means new and different jobs will be in demand. Unfortunately, our economy isn’t doing that. There is no portal revolution, no space race, no internet 2.0 to change the world as we know it.


That means if you are told of a *new* and *exciting* *opportunity* then it has probably been done already. Someone got in thirty years ago when they getting was good and now you have the scraps.


The fact is, there are no easy ways to make money these days. No silver bullet. No perfect plan. All the truly great opportunities are locked tight as trade secrets between the wealthy. If some “opportunity” is being advertised to the general, McDonalds-eating populous then logically it means it’s a dud.


So here’s what you can do about it:


Don’t fuck up


Despite all the rhetoric you hear about the economy falling (and it definitely is), the life you live can be so much easier if you simply don’t screw up in the following ways:


1: Don’t go to jail.

2: Don’t get divorced.

3: Don’t have kids when you’re not ready.

4: Don’t become addicted to drugs, especially the expensive ones.

5: Don’t take on too much debt.

6: Don’t major in something useless.

7: Don’t fuck over your health.

8: Don’t get conned into shady business “opportunities”.

9: Don’t live in New York, San Francisco, or anywhere else with too high a standard of living.


If you avoid all that then you will survive, almost guaranteed. You won’t be living in a palace or driving a Ferrari, but you will be able to pay your rent, bills, food and some video games. No, that’s not very appealing but that’s the truth. The bar is set so low to maintain a self-sustained existence that I’m disappointed that there are so many people who screw it up.


But subsistence isn’t good enough. We all want something better. So here’s more:


Live unconventionally


The conventional plan, as exposed by the generation before us, is to go to college, get a good job, and work till you die. Obviously, we’re not inclined to do that anymore. Aaron Clarey, Matt Forney, Roosh, and many others have talked about the requirement, not necessity, to live an unconventional path in life, whether that be starting web-based businesses, living/working abroad, going minimalist, or just having multiple income streams. The burden is on you to figure out the right path for you. This is something our parents never had to do because their path was well-lit. We don’t have that privilege.


I’m not going to lie to you. It’s hard these days. I’m in the trenches myself. However here is the actual, legitimate good news which should motivate you to go forward: by virtue of simply being here in the underground part of the internet you have shown that you are not part of the mainstream bunch, and that you’re capable of doing things differently. We live in an age where our knowledge is increasing as the human capital of the west is decreasing. All the people your age – your competition – are getting shittier and shittier as the years go on. They’re less educated in the fields that matter, like math and engineering (despite their university degrees), and are less capable of enduring the hardships that you have likely surpassed. They don’t have the mindset of improving their lot in life or looking to overcome their challenges, and instead would rather bitch about it on social media. This is actually good news for you. That means you have a tremendous advantage over them as a person capable of providing something of value.

Ideologies Change. Psychologies Don’t. A Commentary on Barbarossa and Aaron Clarey.

There’s been a recent dustup between Aaron Clarey and Barbarossa, though their particular incident was just one in an overall struggle that I personally know little about and have only recently have been made aware of, and I don’t think many would really even care, but it does serve as a learning opportunity.


Apparently, there has been an ongoing conflict between MRA’s and the MGTOW community, resulting in a doxing attack against Barbarossa (and Stardusk). I’m not sure who was behind it, but I’m sure we all are on the same page that doxing is a shit tactic and really shouldn’t be used against differing factions in the Manosphere. Doubling this BS is the possibility that to culprit was a member of the manosphere, and not a feminist. Funny how backstabs do the most damage…


Where Clarey comes in was by retweeting one of those pictures of Barbarossa allegedly without the knowledge that the pictures were gained through doxing. Aaron apologized, though the response to his apology from those on youtube, especially Barbarossa’s fans was… lackluster to say the least. Aaron has been critical of the MGTOW movement on multiple occasions, and has seen a similar backlash every time, though not to this extent.


It isn’t my purpose here to pick a side. I’ve been subscribed to Clarey for a while, own some of his books, and I’ve endorsed said books in the past. However, I’ve been subscribed to Barbarossa longer and remember his past videos as a stepping stone toward the red pill. I’m not going to pick one over the other because I don’t have to; both are useful to me in different capacities.


But most of you probably don’t care, and that’s cool. Here’s the important part:


In witnessing this, I’ve come across an example of how most modes of thinking are the same, despite the ideological differences.


I believe that the vast majority of people are logical, in that their intellectual mind operates under a formula, like a neurological calculator, that simply processes information just like the rest of us. Facts are presented, processed via our values, and conclusions are generated. The only difference is what you put in to the machine. The input determines the output. The workings of the mind aren’t faulty (except in extreme cases), rather they’ve simply come to a different answer.


If you take a logical mind and give it nothing but oppression rhetoric, then they will logically become a social justice warrior. Tweak the inputs slightly and you’ll get a different result. For example, tell someone that women have always and only been oppressed without any additional information and they will naturally come to accept the feminist narrative. Take that same person, with the same values, and instead show them a world of male oppression and they will naturally accept the MRA position. That’s because the ideologies rely on similar psychological formulas, allowing one to jump to similar ideologies without issue.


In my case, I started as a person who valued the truth. At first, this led me to accept the nearest “truth” available, which was the liberalism of my parents. However, as many already know, the mainstream liberal narrative isn’t without its falsehoods. The constant search for the truth brought me to an egalitarianism that didn’t agree with the left, specifically feminism, but instead fit better with “far right” libertarianism, even going so far as to eventually transition into (and out of) Anarcho-Capitalism. However, that drive to possess more accurate knowledge led me to many red pills, which transformed me into what I am today. Who knows what will happen in the following years?


It is my psychological profile to continue to search, and it is that precise profile which makes me appear to be a flip-flopper. I’m sure there are certain ideologies that will prey upon that, just as they are other ideologies which prey upon different psychological dispositions.


It was the comments section in Aaron’s video that made me see how similar people’s minds operate, despite different ideologies. Unfortunately, many of the exemplar comments are gone from Clarey’s video, like people making jabs at book sales or how this “fight” was a long time coming. A lot of bravado and bad faith went on between anonymous handles defending their idols. I wish that Clarey had decided keep most of the comments up as a modern art gallery rather than delete them.


That behavior I have seen elsewhere on the internet… from the typical millennial social justice warrior. Though, maybe that’s not being fair. Pretty much everyone on the internet acts that way.


I don’t notice a core difference between a SJW demanding someone’s apology over some charge of racism/sexism and, once getting it, say it doesn’t go far enough, that they need to repent, make good to the community, etc., and someone who identifies as MGTOW basically demanding the same after Clarey’s apology. Similarly, I don’t see a deep, psychological difference between a feminist raging against “shaming tactics” and MRA’s repeating the same line when said tactics are used against them. The psychological driving forces behind them all are essentially the same: validation, ego investment, and ideological dependency.


A lot of us in the past have chosen ideologies which validate our psychological biases, using them for excuses as to why the life we currently live hasn’t matched our expectations. For example, feminism validates the woman who feels like she’s held down. Race politics validates the black man who feels like he’s held down. And libertarianism validates the computer-science-degree-holding white male why he is held down. All are slightly different factoids and reasons preying upon the same psychological need. The issue isn’t with the particular facts or narrative one chooses (because these facts are many times correct), but the values and validations that one chooses which produce different results.


What follows from validation is emotional dependency on our pet ideologies. We give them life because we choose to animate them. People can jump between ideologies like I had, and spend hours upon hours in youtube debates about the material, learn and develop intellectually, but they still do not change their dependency on something giving them validation. The results are displayed in any internet battleground.


I’m not here to debunk one ideology over another, and I’m not here to say I’m some kind of enlightened ubermench who has ascended beyond the need for an ideology, because that’s not the case. I do have an ideology. I just don’t make it a big thing, and I could be wrong.


It could be the case that one ideology indeed does have all the answers to life, the universe, and everything. However, that is determined through facts. As much as we like to discuss facts and debate their application on paper, actual discussions never go that way, especially on the internet. It’s egos and hamsters all the way down, because psychology.


I believe that picking an ideology isn’t nearly as important as the psychological reasons why you’ve chosen it. What about this narrative appeals to you? Is it because it accurately organizes the chaos of our world into a convenient narrative, or is it because you’re the mark? If you are a person who makes a personal identity out of their politics, who values image over substance, or who generally takes their views and arguments personal, then it doesn’t truly matter what side of the spectrum you are on, for even your most hated enemy ends up just being your roommate in the psychiatric ward.


If you want that to change, then you shouldn’t change your ideology, but your psychology. This is why personal development and self-improvement are just as important as finding the truth, for the underdeveloped Gamma that learns the secrets of the universe will still be a Gamma at the end of the day. Emotional dependency or ego investment in any ideology will inevitably turn someone into an unhappy zealot. Break those chains by changing yourself.



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Are You Gamma? 1 of 2

Are You Gamma? 2 of 2

Graduating Gamma Pt 1

Graduating Gamma Pt 2

Graduating Gamma Pt 3

Alpha Mail: Question and Answer

Alpha Mail: Raising Gamma

Alpha Mail: Extreme Gamma

Appreciate Life Like A Writer

Perhaps the greatest asset a writer can have (besides the time to actually write) is the depth and breadth of experiences that can be incorporated into one’s writing, including the good and bad ones, for they are both important.


And that’s the key: good and bad.


For example, I was involved in an accident a few months ago. I was driving a loaded work van down the highway at around 70 mph when one of the back tires blew. I tried to get control, but the van pulled to the right, thankfully dodging all the other cars on the highway. It shifted to the shoulder, continued across the shoulder, onto the grass, turned a 180, then tumbled down the embankment, rolling over twice. The van finally stopped at the bottom on its right side. The roof had been ripped off the back like a can of sardines (I know that’s a cliché but that’s what really happened). The windshield was shattered and opaque with a brown coating of dirt. And there I sat, still strapped into my seat and holding the steering wheel. I had been conscious for the whole thing.


I unhooked my seatbelt and stood on the inside of the passenger side door, not quite sure where to go next. Neither door could be opened. The roof in the cab remained intact. By then, a few other drivers came out, asked me if I was okay – and I was. In the end, we pried the windshield from the van so I could finally get out for a much needed sit on the grass.


I was lucky. No one else was involved. I went to the hospital and was released in about an hour or so, since I only had a few bruises and cuts.


Few have been in a roll-over. They don’t know what it’s like to have all the dust and ash that has settled in the cup holders thrown into your face, or how the smell sticks in your nose for the next few days. Many have never seen the sky through the windshield careen into dirt, then become sky, then dirt again as gravity inverts. It’s a lot like a roller coaster, but chaotic and unpredictable rather than artificially constructed and safe.


I have since salvaged elements of that event into my fiction, because I can now describe the event from memory rather than imagination. Sometimes, a vivid imagination is enough to suffice or the only thing we can rely on. But if I had to choose from imagination over experience, then experience would usually lead to stronger writing because it is something one has already lived. Some of the greatest military fiction (or even science fiction) has come from the minds of people who have served in war and know these things firsthand. I believe this is something writers should aim for – firsthand experience.


Then again, it doesn’t have to be a choice of one over the other. A foundation of personal experience can boost a writer’s imagination. Both work in concert.


When looking at it this way, every event, whether it be good or bad, presents us an opportunity to enrich our writing in some capacity. Thus, we shouldn’t fear these events, but embrace them. Some people are so concerned about having a good time or avoiding pain that they can unnecessarily restrict the experiences available to them. However as a writer with the mindset of exploring and absorbing, even bad experiences are useful. Every failure has some utility as a learning experience.


But not everyone is a writer, so this advice takes a different turn for them. Many of us don’t move our lives forward with new jobs, new relationships, new relocations etc., because we become too concerned with maximizing positive outcomes and mitigating risk. As time passes, we become stagnant and resistant to change. The motivation to move forward becomes stronger if you look at life as a writer, if you imagine that you will someday be a storyteller of your own life. You will need experiences to make that story compelling. So when the opportunity comes with the risk of some hardship, don’t immediately reject it, and don’t chalk the results up to bad fortune. Rather, see it as another potential page in your story – it doesn’t matter if that page is a rising action or falling action.


There were times in my past where I held onto the comfort zone so tightly that I missed valuable memories. I used to think about how this or that experience would be “better” (again, maximizing utility) than sitting at home and doing what I supposedly wanted to do. That was the wrong way of thinking because my whole mindset was skewed toward pleasure instead of development. After my current job forced me out of my comfort zone and into these stressful yet necessary events, I began to push out my mind the idea that things had to be “right”. There are times now where I’m given the opportunity to see something new, something I might not even like, and take that opportunity with the notion that I will be going in to observe and experience, NOT to have a “good time”.


A night out that goes poorly can be salvaged in the form of a funny story or cautionary tale. A bad move or a horrible job can be remembered as a learning experience for you and others. Anything less than death itself can result in some kind of personal growth, but missing these things results in a life that’s not worth telling.


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Don’t Let Your Job Work You

I’m no wolf of Wall Street, successful entrepreneur, or big shot salesman. I’m just a millennial guy who fell into the trap of useless college degree, and am now trying to find my best way through life. I’m sure a lot of you all are too. However, what I do have are some experiences and cautionary tales that might help you all out.


Don’t work retail


Just don’t. Retail is the coal mine of our generation – shitty pay, long hours and mind-numbing work. There’s just no benefit or fulfillment in it. Work happens at odd hours and on weekends, so good luck trying to sync a social life with people doing the 9-5, or with other retail people, because most of the time one of you will be working when they’re not, and vice versa. Doubly good luck to you in trying to find a holiday or weekend off for something important and not get called in.


(I once tried to put together a bachelor party when half the people showing up had to trade shifts for a damn Saturday night. Getting my teeth pulled would have been a less frustrating use of my time.)


It’s also a waste of time, and I call it a waste because retail doesn’t give you any skills that translate to other sectors of the economy (but more on that later). Retail gives you experience for other retail. Moving up means becoming a manager, which gives you the experience to be… another manager, somewhere else. Once you’re sucked into the trap then there’s no way to leave unless you motivate yourself to develop skills outside of work, in your free time.


If you’re really hurting for a job, work at a lumber mill or something. At least then you’d have something substantial to put toward your resume.


The only benefit I see to retail is the store discounts if your retailer offers them, assuming you have the disposable income to take advantage of it. Me, I could barely keep my head afloat so the 30% off on sporting goods meant nothing.


Pick a job that gives you skills outside of work


I touched on this above, but it’s a good idea to find work which will not only give you skills for another job but also on your off time. For example, I was hired as a mechanic for a water treatment company over a year ago. Learning how to install and fix the equipment allowed me to fix up my house once I purchased it. Replacing water shutoffs and removing the garbage disposal would have cost hundreds to have a plumber do it. I did all the labor for free. Remember that applicable skills in certain jobs end up saving you money outside of work. Apprenticing as a carpenter, mechanic, or plumber will have cost-savings benefits in the real world, not just a paycheck.


Don’t be anyone’s bitch


This one is extremely important and no one will warn you about it. Older guys will likely tell you to hang in there and just deal with the bullshit your job slings at you, that you, as a younger guy with less experience, should simply take it. Don’t. Here’s why:


I lost around $500 because I was someone’s bitch. At the beginning of my employment, I tagged along with the installer to learn the skills and regulations that went into installing our equipment. With two installs a day, sometimes in crawl spaces, sometimes with cutting into drywall, I was lucky to have a “short” day of about 10 hours. My troubles were compensated with $10 hourly and overtime (WalMart Cashiers make around $12). My stress level went up, as did the physical strain on my body, and I even thought about quitting. But I told myself that this knowledge would lead to something better. Eventually, it did. I was moved up to a service/maintenance tech when we had an opening, which was great, for a while.


However, the new guy who replaced me was faced with the same thing – long hours of grueling work with little pay. What made this scenario different was that this new guy was ex-military and had served in Afghanistan. He’d seen some shit, got his first confirmed kill at 17, been shot, stabbed, and blown up. So when he started to get burned out like I had, he told the vice president of our office that he wasn’t going to do the work if he wasn’t reasonably compensated, because his time and body were better used elsewhere. He said, plainly, that he wasn’t going to be anyone’s bitch.


The management agreed to let him have half the install commission – about $40 per install. I missed out on that because I didn’t speak up, and it was entirely my fault. I didn’t know my own worth.


My advice to you is that if you feel as if you’re getting screwed, then you probably are. Don’t take it. A lot of times, management knows they’re pushing you too hard but either don’t care or want to see how much they can wring out of you before you tell them to cut it out. A lot of people think that working hard means doing whatever you’re told and keeping your head down. No. Working hard means doing good work, coming in when you’re needed, working overtime when required, all with the expectation that you’re fairly compensated.


If you’re a good worker it means you have a lot of leverage on your side, and, if you’re truly that good, it means you don’t have to do the bitch work. Know your worth and push back if you feel as if you’re getting screwed, just plan on leaving if it comes to that.


Know how to balance your time


I love my free time. It allows me to write this blog and my fiction. I hate doing 50-60 hour weeks because my life isn’t my work. Work is just what keeps me alive. The other techs put in those hours and they miss their family and have little to no free time. In the end, they’ll look back on their lives and what will they remember? They won’t want to remember their times at the office, but they also won’t remember the quirky little things their kids have done, since they weren’t around to see it. What good is supporting them if you never see them?


Me, I’ve worked 60 hour weeks for pittance and worked 25 hours a week at $20 an hour (after taxes). Hands down, I would rather have more free time to pursue interests that might make me some money on the side than focus on one, single thing. These days, you need to have multiple streams of income and multiple pursuits. Those who put all their eggs in one basket – at their job – are at the mercy of forces that could take that job away.


It’s up to you to know where your time is better spent and make the most out of it.


Don’t try to find a job that will make you happy. Try to find a job that won’t make you mad


People who like working 60 hours a week generally like what they do (or make the money which makes them like it). Those people are also the exception, not the standard, and you will likely never find a job that you’re happy actually doing. Instead, look for a job that you’re content with, one that doesn’t stress you out. Sure, painting houses wasn’t what you were born to do. It wasn’t your career aspiration in high school. But painting doesn’t make you blow your stack on a daily basis and make you take it out on the cat/dog/partner/kids.


With that being said…


Know the other costs of your job


All jobs come with opportunity cost. You could always be doing something else, something you rather like, but the real world isn’t some Communist utopia where no one has to work. You need to work.


But opportunity cost isn’t the only cost you incur when working. Consider the level of stress. Consider the health issues involved. Consider weekends, vacations, time off, health benefits, and being able to coordinate a social life.


What’s the point of making $100k a year when you can never use it? What’s the point of making that money and, by the end, you’re a 32 year old guy with the body of a 65 year old man? And what’s the point of making that money if you have the shell out thousands upon thousands of dollars to repair the damage done?


I’m all in favor of blue-collar work and working hard, but work that degrades your quality of life rather than contributing to it is parasitical. In the end, you should come out ahead.


The girlfriend effect


This one is special and for those in LTR’s, and could be an entire post on its own.


Before my current job, I worked nights and weekends. Girlfriend would get home at 3:30pm. I would go work at 5pm. That left a small window to hang out, and the weekends weren’t much better. Fortunately, we were living with mutual friends at the time, so I wasn’t leaving her home alone. She was happy hanging out with people even though I was gone.


However, if it had just been the two of us then leaving her to work nights would have given her means, motive and opportunity to stray, if you know what I mean. Out of sight, out of mind.


Some girlfriends/wives are more tolerant of your absence than others, but ultimately, and ideally, they want to spend time in your company. Give it to them. The good aspects of my current 9-5 (though it’s more like 7-4) is that girlfriend has the same schedule, and we can spend nights and weekends together.


Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention status. Chicks dig the status of your job. Plenty in the manosphere have already mentioned it, so I won’t go into detail here. Yeah, you’ll impress people with your high-status career, but remember the costs and benefits, and all I’ve explained above. Sometimes it’s worth it if the pay’s good. Sometimes it isn’t, like in cases where work comes home with you, or you have an hour commute every day. Remember to balance these aspects, and avoid time/health traps.


Free speech


This last one is becoming more important by the day. As the Social Justice Warriors fight for more power, your ability to say what you like decreases as HR managers scan your every tweet and facebook post for PC blasphemy. This is also bad news if you own a business, or are in the public eye. If you piss off the Social Justice Warriors then they will try to take away your means of income (but it’s totally, like, not an infraction of free speech since the government isn’t burning your livelihood to the ground and silencing you).


The good news is that not every job is like that. I’m fortunate to have a boss that gives no shits about political correctness. This is the man, who after having known him for only 10 minutes, explained how retarded it was that the “bull-dykes” in Boulder legalized going topless, not so that they would, but so they could, for equality or some shit, even though none of them will.


Blue collar work is generally made up of conservatives or old school liberals who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about cisprivilege. Working around actual masculine men means you don’t have to tiptoe around delicate subjects in the office, lest it offend the current HR mule. These places might not have job security in our dwindling economy, but they do have what I call ideology security.


Sometimes I wonder if this blog will torpedo my career prospects, up until I realize that if any job is going to can me for my genuine thoughts then it didn’t want an independent thinker in the first place. This goes back to knowing your worth and not being someone’s bitch.




I doubt you’ll find a job with an ideal combination of all these aspects. I don’t think one exists, but at least now you should have some additional considerations when looking somewhere. One way of looking at your work is: in twenty years will the work I’m doing be worth remembering? If it isn’t, then you are effectively erasing a good portion of your life from memory, and therefore existence.


Anyways, I wish you good luck.

Avoid Lifestyle Traps

There are a lot of things out there to scam and swindle money out of stupid people. I call them “Stupid People Traps”. Lottery tickets are a good example of a stupid person trap. Pyramid schemes are another. I’m sure you can think of plenty.


But just because those traps are easy for us to see doesn’t mean that there isn’t another level of more sophisticated traps tailored for just us. These I call “Yuppie traps”.


You know the career guy who drives a Lexus to work, has a wife and three kids in a little half-million dollar McMansion in a covenant community, right next to a golf course? Do you want to know the secret to obtaining that lifestyle?


Truly? Are you ready?


To have your mind blown.


‘Cause here it is:




Yeah, the guys you see in the fancy car and polo shirts, or the soccer moms in the new SUV, they’re most likely up to their eyeballs in debt. I know this because I get to go into their houses and fix their stuff. Nine times out of ten they want the cheap, short-term fix to the expensive, long-term fix because they have no money whatsoever, not after spending their remaining savings on granite countertops.


You might think that these intelligent people (and they are fairly intelligent) are crazy or something for not keeping up with their finances. But you only think that because you’re not one of them, yet. Fair warning, you might be headed for the trap yourself. Unlike lottery tickets, which are a well-known scam, this one has never been revealed to you. It is: your lifestyle.


In the beginning, a young man with a decent job decides it’d be a great idea to spend some of his newfound cash on a nice luxury car. It’ll make him look good with coworkers and friends. It’ll impress the chicks. It’ll make him seem like a bigshot. It sounds like a good idea at first, and it just may work, but hold on a second.


Aside from having to pay a metric assload worth of car insurance, you can’t just drive a luxury car with jeans and a t-shirt. You’d look like a total poser stepping out of Ferrari or Porsche in average, Target brand clothes. This young man knows this, so now he has to spend even money on an appropriate wardrobe – nice suits, nice slacks, and $60 dress socks made with sea snail shells to wick away sweat. Yeah, those exist.


At this point, our young man looks the part of a big shot. He even feels like a big shot. He holds in his hand the envy of all his coworkers and crushes it at the bar with confidence. However, there’s another problem.


You can’t drive a nice car, with nice clothes, and take your fling back to a run-down, single bedroom, 700 square foot, garden floor condo. After spending all this money, our hypothetical young man must now pay over two thousand dollars a month (on top of car payments) to get himself an apartment in a skyrise so he can impress his dates.


And an impressive skyrise apartment needs impressive furniture, right? Your countertops can’t be cheap ass veneer on plywood. They have to be legit granite countertops. Let’s not forget about retiling the bathroom. Triple the square footage, triple the price. Make that quintuple, since we don’t want to forget the walls, and you can’t get that cheap crap at Home Depot either. His and hers sinks would impress. All of this is beginning to add up.


Let’s talk about diet. Captain Crunch won’t cut it for this new lifestyle. A young man who drives a luxury car shouldn’t be seen at a low to middle end grocery store. That’s for loser bachelors.


Eventually, I’m sure our young man will find the right girl to settle down with. He is “high status” after all. An “alpha male”. His girl will therefore need luxury ring and the luxury McMansion. Luxury vacations in Aspen, where skiing is not a poor man’s sport. High-end gyms and home fitness equipment in a finished basement. More granite countertops on every surface and a second luxury SUV in the garage. And hey, why not a recirculating, tankless water heater for a few grand? A house that size requires two furnaces, and plenty of insurance. Add to that not just a mortgage, or taxes, but also an HOA. Thousands come in a month, and thousands go out.


Our hypothetical young man lives a life perched on a fragile cliff where debt and bankruptcy wait at the bottom. God forbid he ever lose some income and get knocked down a SES or two, since his honey’s hypergamy will finish the job that debt collectors could never do. I hope he likes paying off lawyers and child support.


And what started all this? The poor guy just wanted to have a nice car. That’s the problem with Lifestyle: it’s a trap for the smart and wealthy because you can’t just dip your toes in or go halfway, because then you will be seen as a fake. Trying to keep up with a certain lifestyle requires buying the entire package. It’s an all or nothing game that’ll cost you far more than you imagine. Most people don’t have the foresight to recognize this. They think it’s an additional 10 grand here or there. They don’t notice all the other costs that come with it. “Lifestyle”, as it is defined by yuppies and advertisers, is simply a trap designed to swindle money out of intelligent people.


All those car and cologne commercials are set up that way for a reason. They’re supposed to get the most money from the aspirational 14%, which is to say, you.


But you shouldn’t give it to them. It’s not that worth it. Realize that there are extraneous costs to everything you buy, especially in cars and houses. For example, luxury cars aren’t built to last because the core demographic, the true yuppie rich, trades in their cars after two years for the newest model. Paying an extra $400 a month for the luxury of walking downtown from your apartment is a high price to pay considering you’d come out ahead by getting a cab every drunken night out. The difference in price between the base cost of an item and the inflated price yuppies are willing to pay can be thought of as just another tax. A yuppie tax.


Here’s an alternative that I personally advocate for: go minimalist. That doesn’t mean be poor, but it means dodging the allure of a certain lifestyle and buying things on a need by need, and case by case basis. Our young man could have looked at things a different way. He could have decided to keep his paid-off car, his old but functional wardrobe and cozy little apartment, and still would have been a big shot. He could have realized that trying to be a rich guy in America was a fool’s errand, and instead spent his extra ten grand on the best vacation ever.


Ten grand can take you literally anywhere in the world. Imagine that. You can leave town and go to a place where no one knows you, and you can make yourself into a bigshot, at least to live the fantasy for a while. You’ll get to see and experience things never seen before, and, when it’s all over, you can return to normalcy without needing to get financing on your life for the next thirty years. The kicker is that living small and vacationing big should develop a more interesting personality and bestow better life stories for our young man than the rich guy who is stuck keeping up with the Jones’ in his home country.


Plus, it’s cheaper in the long run.



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Why You Should Master Something

In Experience Trumps Education I put forward the idea that gaining knowledge firsthand through life experiences and experimentation is a better way than sitting in a classroom or reading it from a book. And a few months back also I explained that to gain that oh so necessary confidence as a man requires competence in something. That means finding something you’re good at, whether that’s playing the guitar or rock climbing. Mastery will give you the confidence in that and other areas of your life.


However knowing this and following through are two different things.


There are many reasons for why people don’t act when they know they should. Partially it’s laziness, but most of all it has to do with clinging to our comfort zones. Going out there and doing something new can not only by physically taxing but also mentally stressful, especially if you’re an introvert such as myself who would prefer pleasant solitude. In our minds, the proverbial mountain before us seems too great to climb. One might ask: why should I practice the guitar (or anything else) when the gap between novice and master is so wide that it would take years before achieving any true accomplishment?


A valid question, but so what? The truth is that mastery at anything takes a lot of long hours and hard work, and everyone started with knowing nothing about everything. Here are two things that should motivate you through:


First, don’t focus on what it takes to get to the top, focus on what it takes to learn the basics, because once you know the first 10% on a subject, you then have the foundation to learn the next 30% of that subject. It is when you master that 30% that you can now jump to understanding 50%, and from 50% to 80%.


In writing, where the novice sees grammar, the journeyman sees sentence structure, and the master sees orchestration. As you get deeper into any pursuit you will eventually see things in a different light, expanding your understanding to the next level. Music, writing, persuasion, business, the same rules apply universally. You cannot anticipate the complexity of a thing while watching from the outside.


In reality, the mountain before you isn’t as big as you think it is. Only your prejudgment is stopping you. Not only did I learn this on my own when tackling the craft of writing, but I was forced to learn this a different way through my employment.


I knew nothing about plumbing or machinery before I started my current job and I couldn’t anticipate the depth or shallowness of the knowledge required, but, once I learned the basics, I moved up to more advanced concepts at a fairly rapid pace. To sit me down beforehand and tell me all I’d have to learn would make me feel overwhelmed enough to quit. But I couldn’t quit. I was forced to learn on my own because I simply didn’t have the option to back out. I believe this was a blessing overall, since now I have the confidence and competence to reach out and try similar things – woodworking, electrical, etc.


Not only is it important to develop skills for confidence sake, but to also develop skills because they can transfer to other aspects of your life. For example, developing public speaking lends a hand to seduction techniques, and vise versa. Learning to fix an appliance gives you the knowhow to repair or build other things, like cars.


Secondly, and most importantly: mastery isn’t the true point of the pursuit. The zen behind building a motorcycle isn’t in the completion of the motorcycle itself but how the ongoing process changes you. It is this reason why fixing a car for decades, one that you will never drive, isn’t a totally wasted activity, neither is playing an instrument even though you will never have an audience, and neither is learning a martial art you may never use in actual self-defense. We humans need some kind of struggle and accomplishment in our lives, otherwise we become total nutcases. We go out, find a deer, spear it to death, eat and revel in the victory before you do the same tomorrow.


From the process, we know our strengths and weaknesses, ultimately becoming a more self-aware person as a result.

A Commentary to AVFM’s “In His Own Words”.

A Voice For Men has done a month long series on domestic violence called “In His Own Words”, giving a public platform to men who have faced abuse from their wives and girlfriends. I believe these cautionary tales are good ways to get out the warning signs, however examples only go so far. I also believe that some precautionary advice is needed.


Truly, my heart goes out to these guys. Having seen my parents’ divorce, I’ve observed my share of fighting, manipulation, and the custody battles. I know some of what these guys are going through having lived with unstable people in a toxic environment, but the parts that I haven’t personally experienced I don’t want to experience. False claims of domestic violence and sexual assault will blow apart a man’s future and sanity. Bargaining for your children, I can’t imagine it. Even if the divorce is tame and mutual, it’s still the state that gets to decide custody, and the state doesn’t really like men all that much. I don’t wish that scenario on any person. That’s the disclaimer.




Most of those posts have a common thread that the Game community is likely to pick up on. I’m sure they would say a lot of this is due to supplicating, “beta” behavior which empowers women to take advantage of these men. In fairness however, I think even pureblood “alphas” can be conned by a genuine sociopath, though it is less likely. That’s not to say that “betas” deserve their situation, but there is definitely something which attracts these particular women to these particular men.


A little nugget of wisdom I’ve picked up is that your partner is a reflection of you. Ask yourself: what about me does this person like? What traits do I poses that this person finds attractive? That answer reveals a lot about yourself, at least it tells you a lot more if you’re in a normal relationship with normal people. When they’re crazy, it’s a whole ‘nother story.


The borderlines, sociopaths and narcissists all damaged goods for many reasons. They’re predators who feed on the vulnerable and weak for validation or money or whatever. But here’s the kicker: keeping in mind that your partner is a reflection of you, what does that make you if your partner is a predator?


The common thread in my eyes is that all these men were prey in some capacity. I’m sure a handful of women were really, really good at acting the part of a normal, loving person while hiding the intentions until it was too late, and I do feel for the men that were legitimately conned out of their livelihoods, but most of the time an astute observer should be able to pin down psychological problems and NOT ignore the red flags. The proper response is to NEXT the girl quick, but, even when these men had the opportunity, they chose not to until they had already become trapped. There are a few reasons for this.


The first is that some of these men had their own issues. Depression and low self-esteem mark perfect targets for predatory people. When these men saw a shining light as someone reached out to them, they decided to go for it not knowing it was a bug-zapper.


Second, some of these men might have had lived through so many broken relationships that they figured such was normal.


However, I think many of these men had a mentality of scarcity rather than plenty. Their women were just way too hot or too great of a lay and they felt as if that kind of woman would never be achieved again. In order to hold on to her, these men accepted low standards for their women and high tolerances for abuse until it was way too late. (Protip: when a woman way out of your league bends over backwards for you it’s probably a con). These men, whether it be from poor self-esteem or just inadequate judgment of their prospects, figured that the cost of crazy was worth it. Had they recognized their own worth and realized that there were plenty of achievable women out there then they would have NEXT’d her in a minute.


For a man with sufficient confidence and belief in his prospects, it makes no sense for him to put up with that crap from a woman, or anyone else for that matter. Unless you’re already married and have children to force you and her together (which I feel for you, man), then there is no other reason to stay.


You owe it to yourself to have standards and principals which keep toxic people out of your life. Don’t compromise with crazy. Don’t tolerate tantrums. Respect yourself by knowing when to bail, and follow through with it. Nexting is not a threat, but simply a clause in the social contract that you must uphold for your own good. To fear breaking off a relationship makes you dependent by definition.


And the irony is that the more women are rejected for acting like total fools the more incentive they have to shape up. Unfortunately, there are plenty of men who will tolerate crazy. Don’t be like them. Don’t be part of the problem.



Don’t Get Lost in Comments Sections

The internet is simultaneously a bastion of new, innovative ideas, as well as a horrible mire of time-wasting clickbait. Like everything else in life, the internet is a double-edged sword (hell, I’d say everything is a double-edged sword).


We’ve seen a great productive leap thanks to the vast information the internet contains. Need to find out how far the Sun is from Earth? You don’t need to go down to the library, check the card catalog, find the book, then the correct chapter, and read through the verbose prose of some tenured astronomy professor, unless you want to. You can just go to google and find the answer in less than sixty seconds.


However, the internet is also a never-ending amusement park designed to waste your valuable time through funny videos of cats, an amusement park that ultimately isolates you from the real world and real people, sucking your time and life away with every click. The comments sections are no better either.


I used to spend hours, literally, hours in Youtube comment sections arguing with some schmuck about economics or religion or politics. Even when I was offline, I’d keep rolling through the arguments in my head, trying to catch them in a gotcha moment. Or, if I was talking with someone worthwhile, I’d think of new ideas and arguments, but those were rare and nothing ever came of the dialogue. These things would keep me up at night. I’d dread checking my email and my blood pressure would rise when I saw a new comment from youtube.


And what did it ever get me? I wasn’t happy doing it. It wasn’t fulfilling. It’s not like I made any online friends arguing about shit that doesn’t matter. All it amounted to was a big pile of nothing.


If I could take all the words and time used in writing those youtube comments and transmute them into fiction then I’d have another novel or two done. That’s the main reason why I don’t leave comments on the blogs I read through regularly, nor do I read many of the comments. I don’t have the time or energy to get caught up in online debates anymore, even if someone vehemently disagrees with me.


This is just my opinion here, so take it or leave it, but I suggest you don’t get lost in the jungle of online comments sections and youtube et al. debates. They’re a pointless waste of time. Their only purpose serves as a release valve for the frustrated denizens of the internet. They’re for ego, validation, hatred and little else.


The moment I gave those things up I noticed a marked increase in my personal happiness.


That being said, I don’t mean to say that rational debate isn’t a worthy exercise. I learned a lot about other ideologies and developed critical thinking, but I could have done the same and learned a lot more in the presence of real-life, flesh and blood people. The difference between arguing on the internet and arguing in real life are civility (because you aren’t anonymous), courage (because they could always punch you in the face if you missed that previous term), and conversational skills (because speaking in the moment, on the fly, works a whole different mental muscle than having the privilege to type and retype a comment online). In real life, your reputation and face are on the line. You can’t hide behind a keyboard or leave an offensive check that your ass can’t cash.


If you’re really, truly itching to test your new ideology for leaks, then go outside and mutually talk with people on the other side of the fence. You’d learn a lot more, and the both of you would probably be more civil, given that you’re both within arms-length.

Why Social Justice Warriors Suck Part 1: Characters Without a Story

Take a man born to a mother and father who struggled through the depression. Give him a rifle and send him to war to see the faces of his comrades go pale as they succumb to their mortal wounds on some no-name pacific island. Take a girl raised in the dust bowl and give her a job in the munitions plant, so that at the end of the day she can buy some rations for her family. When the troops come home, the man and woman find each other in a postwar world of sudden abundance. They start a family, and the living is easy. They want to give their children a better life than what they faced.


Those children grow up without struggle and conflict. The streets are safe and their family is relatively well-off, thanks to America’s economic boom. However, their easy lives don’t give them true challenge, and thus no true meaning. They live without knowing who or what they are, until they are given a university education and are told of the oppression in the world. Up till that point, their lives are an uninteresting story with no upward arch, but with this narrative their lives could finally have validation. They define themselves by fighting oppression in the racial conflict, in the battle against the patriarchy, in the fight against poverty, in defense of the planet. They, the baby boomers, are the first activists, the first Social Justice Warriors. They assumed the roles of power in the universities, media, and government, but their greatest power would come from having their own children.


The children of the baby boomers live in a world with no major wars. The greatest threat to the west ends with the collapse of the Soviet Union. They too are born into a playpen without struggle and thus without definition in their stories. After incorporating the teachings of the elder activists, they then perpetuate the cycle further and push the policies of political correctness into new territory. They propagandize the media and sanitize the discourse, setting the stage for their descendants.


Now, their children live in a world without physical struggle. They have no great depression or a great war. Every convenience and entertainment is bestowed upon them without cost. They have ingested the politics stuffed into them by the two previous generations, and so their zeal outshines their parents, but so does the void in their heart. They live without struggle in America’s middle class, raised by parents who lived without struggle in America’s middle class, raised by parents who, also, lived without struggle in America’s middle class.


Their lives have no story. No one will talk about them after their deaths. They are average nobodies in a faceless crowd, and part of them knows this. They search for some meaning or some way to differentiate themselves from others. But in this world of abundance, the only supposed conflict is the narrative of oppression. In order to avoid looking at the emptiness in their lives, they’ve that cast themselves as the protagonist of their own movie, fighting the good fight against the evils of the world. That is why they fight so hard, with so much zeal and hatred and loathing against their make-believe villains. It is all an attempt to make themselves a hero and give themselves a story. It is the only thing keeping them from complete existential annihilation.


All Social Justice Warriors, from the hippies of the 1970’s to today’s Tumblr activists, are all searching for some reason to live. While their grandparents and great grandparents found meaning from overcoming the odds and antagonists against them, these children only have their role in the narrative.


The Social Justice Warriors believe the problem is the world, when, in reality, the problem is within them. The problem has always been within them. If only they realized that if they simply filled the void inside themselves then all would be made right. Their fears and hatred would dissipate. They would find happiness. And they would be truly defined, maybe even enlightened.


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Dildocracy Defined

(I didn’t invent the term Dildocracy, but it’s missing from the manosphere lexicon.)


Dildocracy: a social, political and/or economic system that seeks to replace any negative feelings, pain, or inconvenience with expedient pleasure without significant cost.


There are three heads to this beast: the social dildocracy of activism, the political dildocracy of vote-mining, and the economic dildocracy of consumerism.


1: Social Dildocracy – ex: Feminism


Every activist crusade from the social justice camp ultimately seeks one goal: the elimination of discomfort. They are all Utopian, which means they seek the a state of Dildocracy, of all pleasure, no oppression. While Feminism isn’t the only culprit, I’ll be using Feminism in this instance because it is the best example from our perspective in the manosphere. The ideology is our main antagonist, after all.


If you look at Feminism’s main advocacy-points without the lens of the Dildocracy then few things about the ideology are consistent. Why would Feminists advocate for female empowerment but attack the means to empower women? Check out this post from Larry Correa. It’s old news, but it is illuminative of such an inconsistency. In short, Miss Nevada gave some practical advice to stop rape: learn to kick some ass and carry a gun. Feminists rallied behind her to support her message, in some alternate dimension that, sadly, isn’t this one. In this world, they became outraged and offended, as always. But why? Surely carrying a weapon will reduce (though not eliminate) the dangers of rape, and not only rape but assault, robbery, and murder too. Their contradictory stances make no sense, without realizing the Dildocracy.


Rape makes people feel bad. Feminists feel bad in particular if this happens to women. So they’re against rape – not a controversial opinion. However, the Left (Feminism included) regards guns as no-good-very-bad-things because guns kill people, like children. Learning to shoot a gun means getting out of your house, learning a skill (with a deadly weapon no less) in preparation for facing future danger. That’s just compounded layers of badfeels. At the same time, carrying a weapon doesn’t eliminate all rapes, or murders, robberies, assaults, etc. so there is still danger out there thus why Feminists are still angry, because some danger remains. The only consistent position to hold as a Feminist, in a Dildocracy, is to be both against rape and against shooting someone to prevent rape. The only “rational” decision for the Dildocratic Feminist is to rail against both from the safety of one’s locked apartment, hoping that telling men not to rape (a unchallenging, masturbatorial activity at best) will be society’s saving grace.


The Dildocracy doesn’t tolerate “oppression”, because it is a barrier to constantly feeling good. At the same time, the Dildocracy doesn’t want people to confront their “oppression”, because that doesn’t feel good either. The tumblurists, the feminists, the anti-racists and all other activists sit at the center of this inconsistency, wanting their ideal society, but lacking the balls to exact change. Once again, this doesn’t just apply to Feminism. The underlying motivation for the march of progressivism is the elimination of pain and a utopia brimming with dopamine. For those of us who have been made into better men because of pain, this view is seen as a formula for disaster.


2: Political Dildocracy – ex: Democracy and Political Correctness.


When you strip the concepts down to their core, Democracy and Dildocracy describe the exact same process. In my opinion, they might as well be the exact same term.


Democracy is just another word for popularity contest, and popularity contests aren’t won by those swinging the flail of hard truth, facts, and logic, because reality itself cares not for feelings. The honest politician who dispenses truth will dispense offense, and offending the constituents is the quickest way to finding a new career. The politicians of the Dildocracy were the ones to spawn political correctness. No matter how true a fact is, if it offends then it must be removed from the discourse, by the torch and pitchfork if necessary. To win, politicians must gently pluck the feels of the masses, conjuring hope their own pet ideologies and rage against their opposition. It is a delicate melody that avoids offense at all costs, one that never says, “no, you can’t have [X]”.


If one defines the “greater good” as giving the voters anything they want, then the Dildocracy is the perfect system. However it’s hard for me to believe that the goodfeels of the masses will coalesce into a perfect and sustainable central plan for society. As we are seeing now, the Dildocracy leads to political ruin.


3: Economic Dildocracy – ex: Consumerism.


Tell me, what about our consumer economy is designed to go against the dynamic highlighted above? The whole purpose of the market is to fulfill demand, or, putting it another way, desires. No company would be profitable doing anything else, which isn’t necessarily a problem outside of a Dildocracy. If the economy is young and still growing then innovation is usually focused on greater productive efficiency. However, when you have an economy like ours which is focused on consumption for the sake of consumption then every product is made to feel good, to stroke the physical and emotional sensibilities of the populace while mitigating any inconvenience from their lives. Essentially, dildos.


Plugged in, drugged out, overfed and unchallenged are ultimate outcomes of the economy because they are the path of least resistance in the human psyche. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming the market for working as it’s supposed to; it is merely an expression of human actors. However, I am saying that the unnatural process of reducing all human action to goodfeels is a natural part of the market, given enough time.




The Dildocracy is antithetical to everything the manosphere/reactosphere stands for. We are about improvement; the Dildocracy is about dumbing down. We are about truth and insight; the Dildocracy is about feelings over facts. We are about leaving the comfort zone; the Dildocracy is about making everything the comfort zone. We seek challenge; the Dildocracy eliminates it.


Struggle by definition isn’t comfortable, but the challenge gives us the opportunity for personal growth, whether in victory or defeat. Pain is an essential tool which tells your body and psyche that something is wrong. Criticism and offense can hurt sometimes, but they are necessary components of development. All of these things and more lead to a better person, and better people.


The Dildocracy’s fundamental premise is to remove these things for temporary pleasures. It renders all things, both virtue and vice, into a Brave New World of never-ending, artificial dopamine injections – meaningless experiences without context or challenge – and it must be opposed. We must fight against Utopia.