Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

How Should We Deal With The Worst Of The Internet?

"We’re bombarded with poorly written and braindead pieces of content that are engineered to go viral for the sake of virality, not to educate and improve the individual or society," wrote "Roosh V" on his blog the other day:

The internet has become a machine to fill gaps in your ego and self-esteem so that you receive the emotional benefits of validation…. The content you read now has moved from being primarily intellectual from the time of the Gutenberg press to primarily emotional. In the past, it was just too expensive to publish something with the intent to piss someone off or to gather lulz. Like with the first viral article in history (Martin Luther’s 95 Theses), you went through the hurdle and cost of publishing to educate or effect change. Only with the the beginnings of yellow journalism in the late 19th century did you start to see a shift towards more emotional offerings that would enrich publishers and advertisers at the expense of public discourse.

Roosh V—Daryush Valizadeh—is a pickup artist, author and kind of a philosopher too. His views on gender are radically conservative. His views on politics dovetail with his views on gender: He believes that "socialism, feminism, and cultural Marxism cause societies to decline because they destroy the family unit." Described by Jezebel as 'American-Woman Hater – Possibly the Worst Person We've Encountered,' he writes travel pickup guides. They are called the 'Bang' guides, because they are about how to "bang" women in various countries. His personal blog was originally called DC Bachelor, back when he was worried about losing his job over his writing. There is also Return of Kings, which he describes a "politically incorrect men's interest site." One of its featured stories this morning was headlined "Women Have No Sense Of Justice"; it opened with Schopenhauer and ended with Nietzsche. He is 34, and a graduate of the University of Maryland.

But his recent writing about the way we use the Internet was striking for not only being thoughtful but for also not being objectionable. Much of what he publishes I find horrific; compelling for its awfulness, its contrarian message. It makes for uncomfortable reading. To be a woman and to read his sites is to be the strangest kind of voyeur.

And, in a pretty neat illustration of the problem of the "outrage Internet" and viral hate-reading, I actually had never heard of him before he appeared on Jezebel.

We first emailed for about a fortnight. I approached him honestly, saying that I didn't agree with his values but that he interested me. He seemed friendly and professional. He answered my questions articulately. I often disagreed with what he said, but he was honest and straightforward. How should I reconcile this person as the same man who recently announced to his online community that they would be banned if they replied to a female commenter?

By email, I asked him how he became what he is. He's written that women made him this way ("You made it very clear that being nice, chivalrous, and patient was not the way to have sex with you"), that they led him astray ("You made me forget about marriage"). He blames parents. In one of the most disturbing things he's written, he describes how he warned his younger sister about men: "My brainwashing has worked on her, and the truth is she appreciates my lessons. She’s happy not to be like other girls her age, drowning in a shallow life of liquor and anonymous cocks."

"I got to where I am by accident," he wrote in an email to me. "I started a personal blog where I shared my successes and failures with getting laid. I posted regularly for several years while maintaining a corporate job. The blog gradually grew to where guys told me to write a definitive pick up guide. I did so and quit my job to travel. The book income was initially low, but then e-book devices got big and I was luckily one of the first to offer ebooks that you could put on any device. I would like to say that I am a business mastermind, but really I just wrote about topics that interested me (sex and travel). The only time I saw a gap in the market was before creating Return Of Kings in 2012. There was no politically incorrect men's interest site, so I figured the universe was ready for one."

His plan, he told me, was "to get as far away from Western culture and influence as possible to live in a place where tradition is more valued (I'm sure feminists are pleased at my self-imposed exile). I just don't want to meet promiscuous women are are addicted to their smartphones."

Roosh has blogged about why he insists on email format interviews: "During a telephone interview the reporter has a lot of leeway to paraphrase you," he wrote. This is a valid concern for any subject. (Also, if you're at the top of The Washington Post's Most Hated Men on The Internet list, you're going to be a bit more concerned.)

It's certainly easy—and tempting— to cherry-pick the most controversial bits of an interview or pieces on his sites, while not even beginning to scratch the surface. When you do the former, you're left with the notion that he is a troll—instead of someone with a deeply felt ideology. It's easy to focus on the nastiest threads, the ones which make you bristle or feel a little sick—'Describe the ugliest/nastiest/fattest girl you have ever banged' is a good example. Most of the boards are more mundane, with guys seeking advice, or looking to chat.

Roosh's obsession is Western culture, and he believes that he is helping his readers navigate it. He believes Western culture is irreparably damaged. He has written much in praise of Ukraine—his final travel guide, published in January, 2013, is devoted to the country. I asked what he thinks of the current situation there. "From a purely selfish perspective, I would not want Ukraine to join the European Union," he wrote. "I have seen with my own eyes how Western culture has corrupted women in terms of making them fat, short-haired, tattooed, masculine, entitled, and obsessed with soulless office careers. I would prefer Ukraine stay closer to more traditional Russia, where women know how to be feminine, than to embrace the more degenerate culture we see in the West."

Despite that, it was not until our video chat that I realized how deeply horrified Roosh is by what he thinks Western culture has become.

It was 1 a.m. my time, in the U.K., and 2 a.m. in Poland, when we started. Roosh wore a plain white T-shirt, and his shaggy brown hair and beard were much like they are on the graphic atop his website, which shows a featureless face fearlessly riding a red helicopter into the future. He sipped water as we spoke, reaching for it on a shelf far above his computer. He put on his makeup, he told me at the beginning. I hadn't.

He seemed astonished by the level of hate he gets on the Internet.

"All we do is post what we want and like, and people threaten to take our website offline, they click the report button on Facebook. People write to me and say 'I hope that you die.' How well-adjusted are you as a human being if you read something on the Internet and you get so angry that you wish harm on someone?" he asked.

Wishing death on someone is massively not cool. When I mention this to my friends, even the most vehemently anti-Roosh agree with me.

People also called his father—"they actually called up my dad and said that I was a bad man. That wouldn't occur to me ever, that if I disagree with someone's views I would call their mum," he said.

This, to Roosh, is another symptom of the sickness of Western culture. "People are so incapable now of handling opinion that goes against what they think is true that they freak out," he said. "They are emotionally incapable of handling things. This is what the Western world has become—they are basically adults who have, who have the coping mechanism of kids, and at the same time these same kids, they've been told by the culture they're ‘empowered’ and ‘independent’, and so on, so it's really strange if you think, these people, they go to work, they own a home, they can pay their bills, clothe themselves, yet they read something on the Internet and go off and phone someone's dad! Explain that. Why can't people handle things?"

Then he goes on to say: "You know what, the feminist movement is is just one big excuse for women not to even try. Just don't, don't try. Just don't even worry about anything, look like a pig and you're great. It's great because you're fat and ugly, lazy girls."

I don't argue in this conversation; mostly, I just ask questions. I feel guilty about this when I am later transcribing the conversation. I also find myself wanting his approval, and I enjoy talking to him, even when he says the most ridiculous things. Later he will tell me to grow my hair and I will briefly consider it.

"Most people don't have what it takes to be a good woman, a good man," he said. "They don't want to work, they don't want to have to put in an effort. So here you have this ideology saying 'you don't have to work, don't go on a diet, don't try, don't educate yourself on the truth of the world, just be as you are, go on the Internet all day and hate these things.'"

He changes his voice when he speaks as someone else—he uses a 'dumb American' voice, and his body language becomes impassioned, angry. He minds people not working on themselves; he says he believes in hard work. He's learning Russian, he keeps fit, he reads widely, and of course he approaches women and perfects that like a skill one has to master, a talent one nurtures.

"You know, we have two opposing ideologies. One says 'do whatever you want' and the other says 'work really hard, that's life'—99% of people are going to go for the ideology which says they don't have to try, they don't have to work, and they'll hate on the Internet, get involved in a new exciting war, go on, leave your comment, downvote that, report that. I say 'Hey, you have to work. Go to the gym. You have to spend hundreds of hours to learn a language, you have to spend years to learn how to approach women, you have to work very hard, you know, who I am is not from a pill I took, it's from years of writing and effort and no one wants to do that anymore, everyone's so lazy, you know, no one wants to work. They're happy to work at a job when a boss tells them, and they know how to go to a store—they're very good at that, and that's all, that's all they're good at."

Then Roosh suggests that gay people are better treated than straight men in modern America. "I mean how does it get there? How does it get to the point where heterosexual men, especially men who are white, have less value than homosexuals? We are there. We are there. If you are a heterosexual man in this culture you are the lowest of the low. We've got to the point where if you are a heterosexual man you are at the bottom of this culture because you have 'privilege' and 'patriarchy.' You don't deserve anything, while women accumulate their power and homosexual lifestyles are something we rate."

I do not understand how someone can think this.

‘Yeah?’ I said, doubtfully, and he kept on talking.

"Have you seen the movie The Matrix? You're familiar with the analogy," Roosh said: "the red pill, the blue pill. And if you look at that, that's like what some of us actually think is going on. Like what we were talking about the Internet…. the government makes sure people have their work, it makes sure they have their entertainment, that's the version of this blue pill world, it's very good to distract people, you know, to keep them occupied. Just keep them on the Internet where they can't cause any real harm… and just let them get angry at Facebook at this guy called Roosh who made a bad comment, and let's keep them on the Internet, because when people are on the Internet it's not like they're going to go march on the White House to say how the middle class is being destroyed."

Return of Kings has also taken up arms against the Internet. "You’re not going to be on your deathbed wishing you had read more fucking blogs," wrote "LoftBoy" last week, in a post titled "Stop Being Such A Fucking Faggot."

Surely we can all get behind that sentiment, but it also embodies the difficulty of speaking with Roosh: You swing wildly and unexpectedly from agreement to disagreement. Also, isn't there an irony in man like Roosh, who was made by the Internet, railing against it? We moved on.

"A compliment is as dangerous as an insult, because a compliment, if you believe it, if I tell you—'you are the best writer' and you believe that, what do you think is going to happen to your writing? It's going to go down," Roosh said. "The moment a guy tells a girl 'your face is so nice and so gorgeous' she's going to cut her hair off, because it's like, 'oh, great, my face so great, I can experiment shaving half my head.' You know, don't compliment people anymore, actually, if you want to hurt someone compliment them."

"That's interesting," I told him, "because if one of my friends is say a painter, an illustrator, I'll say her work is good, because it is, but also, because, you know, I want to be encouraging. I want her to keep doing it."

"Yes, and she now thinks that the work is great because you gave her a compliment, she doesn't improve on the work, and she fails because you compliment her. What a good friend you are. A horrible friend," Roosh said.

He wasn't kidding. It's all black and white when you believe you are helping people navigate a toxic culture.

"You can't fight the culture," he said. "The wave is up to here and I mean, you can stand up to that wave but it's going to crash on you and you're going to be pulled into the ocean, so the best thing that I can do is give men a surfboard so they can ride the wave—at least they won't drown and die, so I give men a way to navigate the world that we find ourselves in, and better or worse we have to deal with this."

The next day he was going to go round the embassies and apply for visas. He wants to move farther east, to a Russian-speaking country. It depends on the visa. Somewhere he imagines there may be a satisfactory unspoiled country, where he'll find that the women are thin and feminine, have long hair and can cook, and will make a man a drink. "There's no perfect formula," he said, "but women become more traditional and feminine the farther east you go as you get away from western culture. Their bodies are thinner, their hair is longer, they are more likely to wear high heels and dresses, they are more pleasant to talk to, they are less addicted to their smartphones, they don't 'play the field' all day on OKCupid and Tinder, and they are more eager to get into long-term relationships than to adopt the party lifestyle where they sleep with a new guy every month."

The idyll doesn't exist, but it's fine, every person deserves a quest, and at least he's not sitting at home all day, staring into the Internet.

Hope Whitmore is a young writer who currently wanders between London, Edinburgh and Carcassonne, staying with family and friends, while seeking out interesting things to write about and people to interview. She is totally psyched for the Scottish Referendum in September as it will be completely crazy. Photos of Roosh in Berlin courtesy of Roosh.

37 Comments / Post A Comment

liznieve (#7,691)

I understand the desire to not engage the kind of argumentative tone this asshat's trolling seems to so easily provoke, but I think an opportunity here was missed. The interviewer need not be argumentative in order to challenge a subject's views journalistically. To rationally question the irrational, retrogressive misogynystic views he spews forth.

KarenUhOh (#19)


barnhouse (#1,326)

@KarenUhOh Makeup!

Van Buren Boy (#1,233)

Actually, I'm pretty sure this is how you can understand this guy:


whizz_dumb (#10,650)

"You made it very clear that being nice, chivalrous, and patient was not the way to have sex with you."

This is an insane, insecure, high school bro stance…at best. Being nice, being genuinely courteous, and being patient absolutely does get you laid in the best way. Being coercive is the worst. (Preaching to the choir).

As for "You made me forget about marriage", that poor poor baby someone help him remember about marriage.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@whizz_dumb It's super cute how douchebags like this think that none of us are aware of the difference between being a good person vs. just acting like one for the benefits of it (and then abandoning that "strategy" after the benefits fail to sufficiently materialize). And by "super cute" I mean makes me want to put both of those kettles through that stupid skull of his.

xee (#8,831)

"But his recent writing about the way we use the Internet was striking for not only being thoughtful but for also not being objectionable."

Is that really striking, though? There's nothing unusual about someone having conventional ideas about one topic (e.g. the quality of much of what one reads on the internet) while also having nasty or idiotic ideas about another (femininity, the effect of compliments, anything else). There's also nothing striking about the idea that these people believe their own guff – I've had the "Western women are lazy and mannish and the downfall of Western civilisation is at hand" spiel from a number of men, and I'm sure they all felt it perfectly sincerely. Even the ones who tried to cloud it with "i'm just saying"s and "it's just banter"s and other lightening touches. Their deep sense of horror and injustice and politically-incorrect truth-telling helps them to ignore their own intellectual laziness, the fact that they're fantasists.

laurel (#4,035)

By ignoring it in favor of cat and/or bear videos?

bocadelperro (#9,676)

@laurel Yes. These sort of people thrive on attention. The worst thing we can do is not give it to them.

ragazza (#241,456)

This guy hates women, period. Why? Well, that's not my problem to figure out. But why I should give two fucks about someone who clearly has a huge problem with half of the human species is beyond me.

I think his worst fear is that he's boring. Because he is.

domuzluk skywalker (#265,714)

@Clarence Rosario "his worst fear is that he's boring" <== That sounds about right.

melis (#1,854)

"To the last I grapple with thee; from hell's heart I stab at thee; for hate's sake I spit my last breath at thee."
"That is massively not cool."

melis (#1,854)

why the fuck is this guy using two teakettles at the same time

melis (#1,854)

how was that not a question you asked him

@melis Clearly cultivating the "80s Era Soviet Look" is one of his pickup tips.

@melis You're right. I totally should have asked him that.

domuzluk skywalker (#265,714)

@melis one for hot water, one for concentrated tea, it's the standard way to make tea in a lot of places

mastino napoletano (#265,759)

"I would prefer Ukraine stay closer to more traditional Russia, where women know how to be feminine, than to embrace the more degenerate culture we see in the West."

Obviously,for anyone who has ever been to Russia this statement sounds bizarre and ridiculous.Problem is that Roosh has never been to Russia .He needs visa to travel there and to get visa he needs income.He's got none,he lives on money sent by his parents.Therefore he is straying through visa-free countries (Poland,Ukraine,Moldova),where he picks up random jobs as an English teacher,being basically an illegal immigrant.

Now regarding Ukraine-its plain and simple and has nothing to do with "culture". Ukraine is a poor country and green card has some value in eyes of women there.Therefore our pathetic beta-boy,eternally unpopular in eyes of female sex, struck his gold mine there.And this is why he is praising Ukraine so much.He simply did not have access to sex ALL his life.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@mastino napoletano Bingo. In a decade or two, when he gets fat and bald, he'll be praising "the more traditional" Thailand.

annejumps (#265,829)

@mastino napoletano He's unnervingly upfront about the fact that PUAs are better off in countries where women are desperate: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/cockblocked-by-redistribution

mastino napoletano (#265,759)

Joining EU for Ukraine-visa free travel and job opportunities for women in EU= nobody will want to have sex with a pathetic ugly Iranian self proclaimed "Pickup artist".

He can not say it straightforward obviously and of course tells all the crap about the "culture" (meanwhile salivating on fit Scandinavian chicks who,he knows,will NEVER have sex with him)

"socialism, feminism, and cultural Marxism cause societies to decline because they destroy the family unit"

"…travel pickup guides. They are called the 'Bang' guides, because they are about how to "bang" women in various countries."

So he endorses the traditional core family, yet at the same time endorses getting it on with as many women as possible. That's not logic. That's wishful thinking.

Also, in the early Gutenberg days, naughty texts (= porn) was very popular. Porn always finds a way with new technology.

fuzzmello (#265,774)

well, he's learned his Schopenhauer. in fact, that's all he's doing. you're reacting to the regurgitations of a 19th century philosopher and his philosophical prodigy, Nietzsche. this guy's a clever phony. i'm surprised you fell for it.

skyslang (#11,283)

This guy is hilarious. All I hear him talk about is long hair. You like long hair, great. Some people like short hair. Hair length is not representative of anything other than personal style preference.

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

"If you are a heterosexual man in this culture you are the lowest of the low."

You are lowest of the low. You personally. And not because you are a heterosexual man, but because you are a scumbag. That's where we are, and that's where we've always been. Take that from this straight man born and raised in a macho Slavic culture (if my name and avatar are not enough of a clue).

@Niko Bellic So, all the people who run your country, that steal the food out of your childrens mouths, are not as bad as a writer who's main focus is on the downfall of civilization?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Thomas Zell@facebook A scumbag is a scumbag. Some just have more power to practice their scumbaggery than others. It's great that this one is just a "writer", as I sure wouldn't want to see him run British Petroleum or the White House.

I'm sorry, but you people are going to have to do a better job of convincing me to hate this guy. All that he's saying, is things that everyone already knows, mainly that western society is rotten to the core and completely devoid of humanity. I can't see how anyone can disagree with this, so why does everyone hate this guy? Do they just not like how he's pointing out the ugly truth?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Thomas Zell@facebook It's not our job to convince you of anything, but you are making a good case for painting yourself as a self-centered prick.

By the way, you know *who else* argued (and rose to power) by claiming western society is rotten to the core? Mind you, that's was a much more important trait of his than the mustache.

The point being: spare us your self-serving ridiculous exaggeration. Our world has it's problems, but it's far from the hell you make it out to be, and is far better than anything else there is or was (on any kind of a similar scale).

@Niko Bellic So someone challenges your beliefs and you call them a self-centered prick and compare someone you don't agree with to hitler?

Maybe you shouldn't get so worked up, maybe that's why you hide behind a avatar of a boxer?

Niko Bellic (#1,312)

@Brad LaPratt@facebook Stating that "everyone already knows that western society is rotten to the core and completely devoid of humanity" is not challenging beliefs, it's idiotic troll crap that doesn't deserve a serious response.

Also: you can take you smarmy bullshit and stick it up your ass. Telling the truth is a lot more important than "being civil".

That dude is SO gay. Not that there is anything wrong with that…

annejumps (#265,829)

Always worth reading when reading about Roosh is this commentary on how upfront he is about PUAs needing women who are financially desperate: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/cockblocked-by-redistribution

T_X_P (#265,949)

I think a lot of people — including the author to some extent — are missing the forest for the trees with this guy. He's just a very effective manipulator. Extremist politicians and cult leaders exercise the same palette of tricks to gain influence over the downtrodden and desperate — e.g. "not objectionable" statements (with which to gain trust), cultural/societal "secrets" (to display "greater knowledge"), isolation (so those "secrets" can't effectively be challenged), and a giant helping of bombast (to establish/maintain a leadership position). Just be glad that the desperate being targeted are merely those desperate to get laid.

I'm having trouble understanding why there's all this hatred for this guy. He's an entrepreneur who's found a niche and he's making the most of it. That is capitalism, so good luck to him. I think a better use of everyone's time and energy would be to ask why this niche exists in the first place. You know, rather than just being hateful, try figure it out. A problem well-defined is a problem already half solved.

kaycbee (#268,411)

RE: the (mind-bogglingly idiotic) idea that white men "don't deserve anything"
I read something somewhere (I think Chuck Klosterman because it sounds like him) about media coverage and the counterculture, and it basically said that the crazy kids on the fringes are essentially the ONLY ONES getting media coverage until the herd-like masses adopt that behavior and it becomes part of "the majority" while media coverage moves on. I think that coverage feeds a lot of the "I'm a poor white upper-middle class straight dude" mentality because, if you have the leisure time and the "disposable intellect" to spend in certain places on the internet, the growing "fringe" elements of (gasp!) feminists and LGBTQ activists and allies DO get a lot of attention, and, you know, are almost treated like equals (has mankind invented a universally accepted symbol for sarcasm yet? What about one denoting a very dry delivery? Apply imaginary symbol accordingly).

This was one of those "so obvious it blew my mind equally for it's profundity and for my not having seen it earlier" moments, but… straight white dude angry at seeing all these articles from a vocal minority COULD, if he felt like so inclined, interpret certain parts of the internet in this way.

Still a douchenozzle though

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