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Culture War Roundup for the week of August 21, 2023

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Came across the following post from the other site. The OP deleted it shortly after posting, so I'm pasting it below (strange that the mobile app preserves the text longer than the web app).

Title: I (29M) got 200 Hinge matches in 1 week, likely because of my job title. Am I wrong to feel some resentment?

I (29M) want to start out by saying I'm not a particularly handsome or good looking guy. I have a high hairline and a very weak chin. I'm a bit overweight, and not muscular. I'm 5'9.

After not dating for 3 years (I got brutally cheated on), in 2020, I finally made my first Hinge profile. I got maybe 20 matches over a month, then Trump went on TV and said he was cancelling all flights to Europe because of COVID and I ended up deleting the app.

During COVID, my career really became a rocketship. I had always been a hard worker (I don't drink and I'm kind of introverted, so I mostly focused on work), but things really came together for me during the pandemic in a really surreal way. Working remotely at my parents house, I spent a year rising up in my firm, and then because of my niche knowledge set, I was recruited to become a Partner at a very large venture capital firm. I'm currently making $350k a year, and depending on how the fund performs, up to $1.5M a year. None of it really seems real because I essentially didn't talk to anyone but my parents for two years and have basically been sitting all day on a computer in my highschool bedroom.

At the beginning of the year, I moved to a big city and started a relationship with a former friend. It was really tumultuous (she had much more experience than me and seemed to relish throwing it in my face) and it ended after half a year. It was my second relationship of my life, and she really hurt me in ways I'm still unpacking. She told me I'm lacking in confidence and inexperienced and immature and hard to love.

A few months after the break up, I decided to create another profile on Hinge just to see what was out there. I put on my profile that I was "Partner at VC firm" and HOLY SH*T. I got over 200 matches in a single week. Not to be shallow but these aren't mediocre people either. Many are beautiful women with serious jobs as doctors, private equity analysts, lawyers, etc and more. Several of them have messaged me first.

I feel absolutely and totally overwhelmed, and I've since stopped swiping on the app. I can't bring myself to message a single person, and over a hundred have already fallen into the "hidden" section because I never sent a message.

On one hand, I am feeling so overwhelmed by this female attention that I don't know what to do. All of these women seem to have their lives together, and meanwhile I'm this introvert with a weird internet job with no dating experience (seriously, I've never asked a woman on a date formally) and I don't know how to catch up. I seriously feel like if I meet in real life, they'll smell my inexperience on me. I also, for some reason, just don't want to be rejected if that makes sense.

On the other hand (and I'm doing my best to unpack this here), I can't help but feel disappointed at how much more female attention I'm receiving as a result of having a more prestigious job and title. I think the person I was 3 years ago was much happier, kinder, less jaded, more fun, more ambitious, more authentic and all around better as a whole - but I could barely get any matches. I literally miss the person I was. I look at these beautiful women in my matches now and I kind of feel a sense of resentment towards them for only showing interest in me now that I've climbed the mountain or become (at least outwardly) a "finished product" so to speak. I can't help but feel like I'm basically just being objectified for my money, and any relationship I start with these women will be tainted.

If anyone could offer some words of advice on how to get my footing or at least help me unpack why the way I'm feeling is incorrect, I'd be very appreciative. Thank you.

Once you've adequately formed your opinion on this, I would like to ask:

How quickly did you think that the story is entirely made up?

I'm posting this because I'm worried that I am more gullible than I thought. Hundreds of comments on the thread point out fairly convincing reasons why this is a creative writing exercise: some claim to have equally prestigious job titles and/or make more money, but did not experience anywhere close to the reported success here; others say they've temporarily changed their job titles to something made up and far fancier and it didn't move the needle; then some point out that 200 matches in a week would require he swipe 400 times at a 50% match rate, and that seems excessive for one who claims to not have bothered messaging any of them; finally, there are some vaguely incel tropes that make this seem more likely to have a hidden agenda in influencing popular opinions.

In my defense, the majority of comments seems to buy into the OP's story and responds sincerely; they also have more upvotes, suggesting the majority of lurkers tend to agree. But I think most people here hold themselves to a higher intellectual/rational standard than the average Redditor, so I do blame myself for not thinking critically enough. Are there any simple heuristics that I could have employed here to better avoid falling for creative writing exercises? I did think the post had challenged my priors about what drove dating app success rates, so perhaps one strategy is simply to be more faithful to your priors.

P.S. lol @ the new 500,000 character limit on posts. Seems excessive...

I'm posting this because I'm worried that I am more gullible than I thought.

Are there any simple heuristics that I could have employed here to better avoid falling for creative writing exercises?

Sure, you could practice being cynical:

cyn·i·cal /ˈsinək(ə)l/


  1. believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

There's a reason rationalists are sometimes accused of being quokkas. There is also a reason why, at a certain threshold, open-armed rationalists can be seen transforming virtually overnight into hardened black-pilled culture warriors. The transition from Jedi to Sith portrayed in the Star Wars prequels is sometimes mocked as too abrupt, in a way that is arguably responsible for all the Jedi lore that has developed since (though it did give us a wonderful bit of flash rationalfic from Eliezer Yudkowsky). But the strongest counter is that George Lucas just had it right to begin with: the most sensitive are the most vulnerable. A mistrustful misanthrope who is constantly on guard against being tricked, lied to, and abused, is rather insulated against betrayal from the beginning.

By contrast, a tendency to simply believe what people say, until you have a reason to believe they are lying, is the kind of attitude that is difficult to maintain in the face of persistent exploitation. But if it is your "nature" (insofar as any of us has one of those) to be a quokka, you probably aren't going to change the first time you get burned. Instead, repeat burns are going to accumulate until it is simply no longer psychologically possible for you to ignore them, and then the whole quokka edifice is going to come crashing down all at once.

I would like to suggest that the question you've posed is complicated in part because there is a good reason for you to continue falling for creative writing exercises: that you fall for them at all suggests you still have faith in humanity, or at least in its potential. There are explanations for every objection raised; the story as told is not literally impossible (I think--I've never used Hinge--but any given lie may also be an exaggeration, or an attempt at infosec, rather than proof that a story is entirely false). And even false stories may communicate truth, else why ever touch fiction? Presenting fiction as fact is problematic, of course, but there are also times when a carefully crafted lie is instrumental to uncovering truth.

The question that has faced careful thinkers since time immemorial, then, is whether your love the truth is so strong that you are willing to be stripped of human experience as a result. Socrates died for the truth, and Plato preached the virtues of the solitary mind. The original Cynics, including Diogenes of Sinope, were ostracized from polite society over their commitment to the truth. But there are others--Aristotle, the Epicureans--who thought that socialization was crucial to human flourishing. They, too, were committed to truth, but the Epicureans at least recommended against participation in certain kinds of conversations (most especially, politics!).

It's probably good mental hygiene to maintain a healthy skepticism against anything you read on the Internet; anonymity and inaccountability present a different incentive profile than face-to-face interactions, after all. But "gullible" is not quite the same thing as "open and trusting." Aristotle might say that "gullible" is having too much trust, while cynicism is having too little. I don't know what the relevant virtue-mean is ("credulous?" maybe just "trusting?") but striking the right balance is probably the pursuit of a lifetime. Falling for a somewhat-plausible work of creative fiction is a far cry from, say, getting bilked out of your life savings.

Trust but verify as the golden mean?

Trust but verify as the golden mean?

That seems right to me, yeah. Thanks for pointing it out!

What's the difference between "trust but verify" and "don't trust"?