A couple weeks ago I did an "I Am A" on Reddit about being a former pickup artist, which meant that thousands of people could ask me questions about it. And they did. The questions flooded in faster than I could reasonably respond to them, which meant that sometimes I didn't answer in as much detail as I should have.
In a hurry to finish a question I wrote "There's more to life than picking up girls, of course, but I'd say that social skills are probably THE most important thing in life."
It struck me as an obvious statement, one that wouldn't need justification even if I had the time to provide it. Some people agreed, but a couple violently disagreed with me.
What? What's more important than social skills?
I guess if you find yourself being attacked by a ninja, you might have a good case that for you self defense would be more important, but for the rest of us I don't think anything trumps social skills.
Someone emailed me recently, asking for advice on whether or not to go to school. It's no secret that I'm a proud dropout, and a lot of times I get the idea that people email me about this stuff because they've already made up their minds and want to have their instincts confirmed by SOMEONE, since almost no one will tell you to drop out.
I learned a little bit of Chinese in college, a tiny bit of Japanese, and I took a good SCUBA diving class. I took a psychology class which hasn't left too many memories, but I'm sure I got a few good things out of it. Mostly, though, I learned how to socialize. I made friends, many of whom I still have today, and created memories with them. I made mistakes, too, and started to fill in the mostly-blank map of social dynamics in my head.
I replied and told him I'd consider going to school, not for the classes or the degree, but for the people. Stay, socialize, and then drop out when you're ready.
At the risk of sounding like the hippie I'm often accused of being, it's the shared experiences we have which define life's highest peaks. I'm a huge nerd, so I get a great amount of enjoyment from my computer. Working alone on a tough problem (like trying to make my phone system even more insane) is fun and rewarding. Writing gives me a hearty sense of satisfaction sometimes. Playing Monkey Island is fun.
But there's no substitute for an adventure with a friend, the unconditional love of your family, or the delicate dance of flirting with a girl. I forget that sometimes when I'm huddled away behind my screen.
That's why I stick up for pickup. I don't do it for the shady marketers who promise to teach you how to become a player. I don't do it because I think it's a completely pure and wholesome practice that has no dark side. I don't do it because I like arguing with idiots.
I do it because to me it represents prioritizing social skills, and I don't know anything more important than that.