“I have an important message to deliver to all the cute people all over the world. If you’re out there and you’re cute, maybe you’re beautiful. I just want to tell you somethin’ — there’s more of us UGLY MOTHERFUCKERS than you are, hey-y, so watch out.” – F. Zappa
Ever since days of Craigslist Personals, lonely people of all sexual orientations, genders, and perversions have used the internet to take out their frustrations on each other, instead of, as Zappa said, uniting against the pretty people. We’ve learned nothing since the 60s, so we’re as bad as the hippies.
That can still change.
Socially inept, ostracized, geographically isolated, or unattractive people do commiserate online, but usually in same-sex groups (“The other genders are responsible with all their demands and rules!”) and usually in terms of vignettes (“awkward penguin did this at a party!”) instead of deeper systemic issues.
Just like the great Crash of 2008 had everyone isolated and thinking, “It’s my fault I lost my house and job. I was irresponsible and uncompetitive in the global market!” but then crusading activists pointed out, “No, you were set up to fail by a system that profits off dispair, you sillies. You’re not in it alone. You can fight back!”
I’d like to reframe the debate away from ‘boys vs girls (vs trans vs gay vs straight)’ and towards ‘popular vs isolated’.
And I think that discussing systemic issues (as boring and abstract as that can be) is the only way to bridge the grievances and bitterness that divide us ‘ugly motherfuckers’ and allow us to unite.
Reframing away from sex towards general isolation.
Because, if you cure the isolation you’ll probably a) let go of a lot of bitterness, and b) have more opportunities to date anyway. But if you start, as most people do, by focusing on getting a relationship, with no social network and no one to vouch for you, you’re attempting something that even attractive people have a hard time doing.
Plus I think the root of a lot of dating-related anger is just displaced isolation-anger in the first place. Shit makes you notoriously short-tempered and finicky.
The next step is to have real-life meetups of losers. What they used to call ‘consciousness raising groups’, where self-appointed leaders try to get people to go ‘round the circle and share individual experiences. And by looking at the common threads, get the group to see the larger systemic factors that unite them.
There would also be snacks.
Some topics would be;
· the ways in which long-term isolation (sexual or regular) messes with your brain
· coping mechanisms which work
· coping mechanisms which just make things worse in the long run
· economic factors (overwork, money-stress, lack of time)
· unconscious assumptions that sabotage us
· does changing your personality to be more ‘acceptable’ mean that you’re phoney or that you deserved to be alone before?
· Assigning blame and vengeance
· Does compartmentalizing your feelings help or hurt? (i.e. putting all the bad feels into a locked box; putting on a brave front; being really overconfident in some areas and abjectly self-pitying in others, etc.)
· Transitioning from isolation to friends without losing who you are
· How to leverage confidence in the things you are good at into confidence in general
· Without friends to give a reality check, how do we keep our expectations from getting too unrealistic?
· How do we keep our unwanted thoughts from repeating endlessly, until we just wish Flanders was dead?
· Social media: Genuine relief, or crutch? How to use it without letting it use you.
· I’ve started to do xyz. Is that just me being nuts or is that something a lot of isolated people do?
· Physical tolls of isolation (increased stress hormones, etc)
· Ways to live alone forever, productively (scheduling regular meals, sleeping times, chores, etc.) so as to reduce stress.
· Cool places to be alone or people-watch.
· What would you like society to know about you? How would you like to see the isolation issue framed?
· How should society change to stop others going through what you’re going through? What are your demands?
· What are your demands besides sex?
They could also have guest speakers, such as sociologists, that explain the unspoken rules of society. Not that you’d have to FOLLOW them, just that knowing them makes it easier to predict what other people will do in response to your awkwardness, and plan accordingly.
In return, the socially isolated people would provide a ready-made focus group for the sociologists’ quizzes and surveys, so THEY could learn more about the long-term effects of isolation.
Another type of guest-speaker would be the Formerly Isolated. This would be controversial, since some of the losers would view FI’s as inspirational while others would see them as sell-outs. But their presence would be important! Not to tell people how to live or how to change and ‘improve’, but to share their own struggles as they adapt(ed) their personality to their new situation.
A third category of guest-speaker: the Unhappy Popular person, who would fill the vital function of schadenfreude. A counterweight to the Formerly Isolated, the UP would talk about the downsides of popularity, the dirty secrets and ruthless competition that go into the seemingly effortless surface appearance of confidence and beauty.
They would have to be thoroughly vetted to weed out humble-braggers.
Also, the whole notion of, you can control yourself, but how can you compel others to think well of you? Friendship (to say nothing of fucking) is not a decision anyone can unilaterally make (unless you’re a rapist in which case don’t come to the meetings). It’s not your decision for so-and-so to be your buddy. Given that seemingly simple fact, how does anyone ever make friends?
That’s not a guest speaker category, that’s just something which I’d like to ask all the guest-speakers until everyone rolls their eyes the second my hand goes up.
Also, there’d be a Heisenberg effect, where merely observing the phenomena will change it. Put less pretentiously, having a bunch of lonely people in a room will cause relationships to form. Whether those will be sexy or platonic or political or just random bullshit infighting I have no idea.
Back to the long term project of these consciousness-raising groups (revenge): survey all the people in all the groups in all the cities, all the genders, all the orientations and races, and find out the common points that they all share, across demographic lines.
Then distill those common points into a BASELINE. Baseline means, whether you’re straight, gay, a male nerd or obese woman… whether you’re a quiet introvert or a raging crank; a traumatized rape survivor or a hermit in a forest. . . regardless of what other struggles you have in life, here’s what you all have in common! Here’s why you have the same vested interests, and here’s what you’re entitled to demand from society!
The baseline would be made into a simple manifesto, some slogans, and spread via Craigslist.
Whatever the baseline traits wind up consisting of, here’s one thing that would definitely be in the manifesto:
“Only by working together can you accomplish what you can’t individually. It’s not about learning pick-up techniques or seeking ‘daily inspiration’ tweets from some dingus you want to be. It’s not an individual effort.
“You’ve been told all along, either it’s ‘every man for himself’, or it’s ‘lose your personality and blend in society’s amoeba.’ But that’s a false fuckin’ choice.”
Just keep ranting like that, until we get the other 90% of isolated people (that haven’t been coming to the meetings) involved and united in a movement with goals. People overcoming their ‘take it out on the other lonely people’ syndrome, and uniting against the pretties, as Zappa intended.
Kind of how Bernie Sanders said, “OK there’s been the Black struggle, the women’s struggle, the immigrant struggle, all this identity politics stuff, and that’s totally justified and righteous, except the part where you didn’t change anything because you weren’t working together.
“What if we all got together on the one issue we all agree on: we need more money! With the ‘more money’, we can each finance our individual struggles. Only by uniting can we take the money out of politics and weaken our mutual foes. Two birds with one stone! But first we have to stop working in isolation and taking our frustrations out on each other for not being pure enough.”
Like that, but for losers.