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.
With a title like that I ha dot check out the post.
I liked the references to ninja. I reckon if one was good enough one could "social skills" their way out of a confrontation with an angry ninja.
Just a thought.
"The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun."
-John D. Rockefeller
Dude, you are awesome. I was completely taken aback by your site. I've become jaded over the past two years since I got into the game.
After being bombarded by misleading offers, I came to think of most of the game as a scam. I couldn't help but get this feeling that Neil Strauss made it public so the community could make money. It sounds a little crazy, but most of this stuff just seemed like pure money making.
You strike me as different.
When a friend asked me where my game was, I realized I had grown socially though. I was content in having increased my knowledge in social dynamics.
I've actually decided to make my major in college communications just so I can work on it more. When asked why I always say that people are always going to be talking, it would be best to know what the heck they are saying :).
Thanks for the nomad book, if it's any good I'll try and toss you a couple bucks.
Thanks for not being a tool and making me feel like shit.
Couldn't agree more!
Funny enough I just started reading How to Win Friends and Influence People. Brilliant so far. It is pretty old but the way it is written makes it timelessly relevant. I would recommend it to anyone.
...Monkey Island!! that's social skill development to the hilt!! ...arhhh, that dealing with sour pirates goes a long way...
I have to agree with you Tynan about social development being an ultimate pro to playing "The Game" or practicing "Pick-Up"... your opinion forged of experience confirms that worthy desires and/or achievements require patience and practice which do indeed pay in dividends.
It's also exhilerating to sharpen those skills by pushing yourself outside your comfort zone even in many situations other than "pick-up". Which situations impose less risk though? ...falling on your face in a business deal due to lack of confidence as a result of not having well developed social skills, or getting rejected by a girl...or, worse in my opinion, the potential to break a girl's heart who may actually fall in love with this crazy guy :)
hmmm... i've been all over all of those... and as fun as Monkey Island can be, nothing will ever beat facing the challenges of conquest in the real world!! So, the real risk is not taking any risk - that is the risk of living a lame life! Ha!
lame social skills = lame lifestyle
In fact, there should be some type of interactive education in school about this even... hey... ureka! what a novel idea...
This is a bit sweeping, right? The skills you learn principally in pickup are the early representation stuff - as you've pointed out, rejection on approach isn't personal, because it's just rejecting your approach.
"Social skills" is a broad thing. That initial charisma that draws people to you certainly increases the pool from which you can draw friends, but most people I know, even those with crippling social anxiety or whatever, have at least a couple very good friends.
I've known many people who practiced the early charisma stuff until they had it down, drew people in, but in the end, aren't able to be genuine, their mask is a little too solid, and people have trouble connecting with them.
I'd say the most important skill in the world is the presence it takes to let your guard down and experience intimacy. You can do that if you have only one friend in the world, and I think it offers a richer life than hordes of friends if you aren't comfortable with intimacy.
I guess you can include that under the umbrella of "social skills," but it seems like a stretch.
I've been listening to Pomplamoose's version of "Nature Boy", lately, which I love, and especially the message of the lyrics, which, while popularized lately in Moulin Rouge, are almost a hundred years old now: "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return."
This pretty much hits it right in the head on why learning pick up is awesome. A lot of people forget why we're here. It's to enjoy each other.
When you leave college, you're not going to remember what you got on your chem exam. You're going to remember the memories you shared with your friends. Socializing is probably the only reason I'm in college.
I couldn't agree more with your post, Tynan.
As I've been immersing myself in poker, I've been overwhelmed by the parallels with pickup, in theory, practice, and in my experience as a student.
I'm not sure if this is pure coincidence, my mind trying to find a pattern where there's not one, or a genuine underlying pattern that probably extends to other areas of learning.
Pickup is the only other thing I can think of that I learned rapidly and by immersion. I made it my world for a year or two. As a result, I remember the learning process, whereas something like web development I can't really remember because I've been learning gradually.
I've been saying that college is obsolete for a very long time. I dropped out in 2000, because even back then I could see that it was a really poor value proposition. I didn't predict this because I'm some crazy genius, but because I'm willing to discard emotional attachment and stare plainly at the facts.
School is outrageously expensive, leaving graduates with a debt (or net expenditure) of tens of thousands of dollars-- sometimes even one or two hundred thousand. There are some things that are worth that amount of money, but for many people school isn't one of them. In fact, apart from very specific cases, I think that school is a bad thing, not worth doing even if it was free.
That's not to say that school has no benefits whatsoever. It does, and although I left with zero additional skills after my three semesters there, I had a good time and benefited from the social aspect. The problem is that you can't just compare college to doing nothing at all. You have to compare it to what you COULD have done.
Let's say that when you turn eighteen, it's a good idea to take four years to develop yourself. College is one way to do that. If we were to construct an alternative way to do that, what could it look like? One of the biggest weaknesses of school is how inflexible it is, so one of the greatest benefits of designing your own curriculum is that you could come up with one that uniquely suits you. That said, here's a plan that I think would benefit many people MORE than school would. Let's call it the Hustler's MBA.