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There Will Always Be Guys Like Andrew Tate
Here’s a compressed history of what we refer to as the “manosphere,” an umbrella term I’ll be using today for lack of a better word. It includes pickup artists, incels, men’s rights activists, red pill theory guys, libertarians, gamergaters, fathers’ rights guys, Star Wars sequels freaks, Zach Snyder Justice League obsessives, the YouTubers still ranting about that one Ghostbusters reboot, Johnny Depp defenders, that specific kind of guy who loves the drugs and personal fitness stuff that Joe Rogan talks about, and TikTok hustle bros who are obsessed with using male hierarchy memes to explain why they’re the Patrick Bateman of their high school.
In 2001, a Libertarian blog named No Ma'am published the “MGTOW manifesto”. (I can’t be sure, but I think that blog’s name is a Married… With Children reference.) The “MGTOW manifesto” or “Men Going Their Own Way manifesto” aimed to create a Don’t Tread On Me-esque social movement for men who wanted to restore traditional gender roles. And it called for men to use websites, blogs, forums, conferences, and local clubs to advocate against feminism. And if they couldn’t, well, I guess, they’d go die alone in the woods or something.
Around the same time that the MGTOW manifesto was being shared across early blogging communities, a small network of men with linked, but differing approaches to reclaiming their masculinity began connecting online, as well. These men promised to help other men get laid if they paid for expensive courses where they would learn pseudoscientific psychological tricks to deploy on unsuspecting women in public places. My personal favorite is still “The Cube” and it’s absolutely unhinged. And in 2005, investigative journalist Neil Strauss published The Game, turning these men who described themselves as pickup artists into a cultural phenomenon. Two years after The Game came out, VH1 released The Pickup Artist reality show, which gave this world a visual aesthetic that I would call “anime cosplayer who listens to hair metal”.
As young men fell down the pickup artist rabbit hole, though, and ultimately did not become sexual dynamos, a bitter concurrent reactionary wave began to bubble up. And message boards in the early 2000s like Love-shy, IncelSupport, and PUAHate began to house this third strain of toxic online misogyny, which was increasingly focused on using nihilism and, eventually, violence to express a perceived sexual power imbalance in modern society.
It’s from these three wells that all subsequent Bad Internet Men come from and now have to cater to. The manosphere, as we know it now, is a constantly rearranging combination of anti-feminism, gender-focused libertarianism, pseudoscience, dumb internet jargon, get-rich-quick scams, parasocial relationships, and violent nihilism. The men who rise to the top of it, whether they’re Jordan Peterson, pickup artist-turned-ascetic monk Roosh V, or, most recently, Andrew Tate, get attention because they find some novel way of putting these pieces together in the right order.
Last week, following a big piece in the Observer about Tate, the kickboxer and former Big Brother contestant, who has been accused of human trafficking, harassment, and abuse, was kicked off platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. He was already banned by Twitter. And Tate’s Hustler’s University, which was a sort of fucked up affiliate marketing program for the kind of guys who hate women, but don’t have enough irl friends to just read Barstool Sports, has now also closed down.
I was interviewed by Metro in the UK earlier this month about Tate’s quick rise to fame and I’ll quote myself here because I think it’s a good summary of Tate’s whole deal, if I say so myself (about myself): “Andrew Tate is not smart or savvy, but he’s figured out that there’s lots of men who have podcasts and if he shows up with sunglasses, smoking a cigar and says the craziest thing you’ve ever heard, that clip will go viral.”
After Tate’s deplatforming a bunch of YouTubers trotted out the same old arguments against it. “Banning Andrew Tate is dumb,” Mutahar “SomeOrdinaryGamers” Anas tweeted. “Ideas should be challenged and if he spreads misinformation it should be countered in the public sphere.” First, Tate’s not even fully deplatformed. His podcast is still hosted on Spotify. Also, social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have the same relationship to the “public sphere” that Walmart has to a small town’s economy. They monopolize and eventually atrophy any coherent sense of discourse. And, finally, Tate, and all the guys like him, are only in our faces in the first place because of these platforms.
What’s interesting about the manosphere is that it pre-dates social media platforms. It was born from blogging networks, podcasts, and message boards. Which makes it a really useful yardstick for how these platforms irresponsibly amplify toxic internet content. And it means that we know how the world saw these guys before giant social platforms were thoughtlessly super-charging their unhinged diatribes. Even when they were the focus of a best-selling book and a hugely popular TV show, these guys weren’t as big, or as violently extreme, as they are now. They were scattered to the wind, festering away in their little bubbles, fighting with each other about what kind of jaw plastic surgery they should get to become more attractive to women. And without central feeds to attach themselves to and algorithms to promote them, they were punchlines. And that’s what they’d revert back if we stopped relying on unmoderated social platforms to deliver us infinitely-scrolling feeds of internet content.
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Brain Tape is a close-reading strip-by-strip recap podcast of the seminal mid-2000s webcomic, Achewood. One of us has a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the comic. The other reads each strip the second before we record. Both of us have brain worms.
Join us as we theorize, argue, inspect pixels, and discover that (spoilers) the whole comic does indeed smack of gender. Available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify (reluctantly), and anywhere podcasts can reasonably be found.
Doxxing Is The Defining Political Weapon Of The Post-COVID Era
There’s a lot of annoying quibbling these days about what is defined as doxxing. Like free speech, bad actors love to twist and warp its definition to fit their agenda, but I always liked the simple definition a friend of mine who works in digital security uses. He described doxxing as the release of personal information with the implied threat of violence. It’s about pointing the unpredictable firehose of online attention at someone (or something) in a physical space without their consent and with the expectation that someone might use it to hurt them. The more academic term I see a lot of people use on Twitter is “Stochastic terrorism,” but I don’t think that’s going to catch, so I’m just going to keep things simple and stick with doxxing. And I think under this framework you can start see some similarities across a few seemingly disconnected events that happened over the last month.
Right-wing Twitter account Libs Of TikTok, run by Chaya Raichik, went to war with Boston Children’s Hospital this month, baselessly claiming that the hospital was forcibly giving children gender reassignment surgery. Libs Of TikTok’s followers doxxed doctors and other hospital staff and flooded them with threats of violence. And here’s a good thread of other recent instances where Libs Of TikTok’s tweets have lined up with doxxing which then resulted in real life violence.
Meanwhile, right-wing “news” “website” Breitbart doxxed the FBI agents that raided Mar-A-Lago this month. Information about the agents, along with their families, circulated on the Trump-owned “social” “network” Truth Social. Garrett Ziegler, a former aide for Trump, released a statement arguing that naming the agents was about transparency and was not doxxing. But, I mean, obviously, it was.
And, finally, trans Twitch streamer and activist Clara “keffals” Sorrenti was first doxxed and swatted. Then she fled her apartment and was doxxed at her hotel. And she’s now in hiding.
The pandemic had one very immediate effect on the way we use the internet. By making the physical world largely inaccessible for millions of people, it made us all start to take the digital world more seriously. Doxxing is the violent subversion of that. We’re all online now and bad actors are going to keep ripping away the protective distance granted by our online lives until our laws and our concepts of safety and identity catch up.
Nothing Can Prepare You For What This Sounds Like
This was dropped in the Garbage Day Discord by MenuBestOfPlus. It’s beautiful.
Is Ethereum Finally Merging?
I first wrote about this earlier this year. Next month, Ethereum, the second most-popular cryptocurrency and the one that powers the buzziest parts of Web3 — NFTs, DAOs, dApps, etc. — is expected to finally “merge”. What this means is that the way Ethereum is minted will switch from “proof-of-work” to “proof-of-stake”. Unlike Bitcoin, which isn’t controlled by anyone, Ethereum has a founder who is still very much involved and it functions as a semi-coherent network which can be updated and changed. A test of the merge was completed earlier this month and everything is still on schedule for the real thing in September.
The differences between POW and POS cryptocurrencies, put as simply as possible, have to do with energy consumption. POW cryptocurrencies use a lot of computing power to generate new coins, POS cryptocurrencies use a random assortment of validators. Think of it this way, server farms compete to make new Bitcoins. After the merge, a collection of people will be doing that same work for Ethereum. And POS is also, theoretically, better for the environment. Here’s a big Ars Technica rundown if you want to dive into the nitty gritty.
Weirdly, one of the more thoughtful takes I’ve read about all of this was from a random Reddit comment: “POW is already a POS but in $USD, whoever has the most conventional money can buy the most crypto mining rigs and energy to run them. At least in POS the stake is in the crypto money itself, making it completely independent from the conventional money supply. End result of POS is the same and it's less wasteful in real resources.”
Well, we’ll see what happens in September!
The Backrooms Are Too Mainstream Now, I Guess
Not sure what’s happening inside the collective psyche of Tumblr this month, but users have decided that the creepypasta commonly referred to as “the backrooms” is too mainstream and users are now brainstorming alternatives.
Creepypasta is a term for internet folktales that are, as the name would suggest, creepy. The most famous is probably Slender Man. And if you’ve never heard of the backrooms before, imagine the hallway of a convention center or hotel. It’s carpeted and has a bunch of different nondescript doors. OK, now imagine while wandering this hallway it just… never ended. That’s the backrooms.
Tumblr user partlysmith shared this video of similar concept called “the poolrooms” where you just wander a series of interconnected hotel pools.
And Tumblr user charlesoberonn put forth an idea called “The Lot,” which is like the backrooms, but it’s a never-ending parking lot. “In the Infinite Ikea or Backrooms you can convince yourself there's gonna be a door round the next corner or behind that wall,” charlesoberonn wrote. “But despite it being completely open, there is no hope of escape from The Lot. Wherever you look it's just more cars from horizon to horizon.”
A Good Tweet
The Results Of The Big Garbage Day Reader Survey
Alrighty, so before I went on vacation, I sent out a reader survey and I ended up getting about 1,000 responses, which is I feel like is a pretty good sample size. If you want to do the survey, but missed it, you can check it out here, though I do feel like I sort of got all the answers I needed from it. But extra data always helps and I will check on it later in the year. I know a lot of other Substack writers and just general internet content creators follow me, so I thought I’d share some interesting takeaways:
About 70% of you think the Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule is perfect, about 20% of you would be happy receiving more emails, and about 10% think I’m sending too many emails.
About 10% of you wish Garbage Day was a little sillier.
A little over a third of you think I’m doing too much crypto coverage.
About 60% of you read Garbage Day on the day it comes out and 80% of you read it in your email inboxes. Which is actually more than I thought.
Interestingly enough, 50.2% of you don’t ever want to go to a Garbage Day event and 49.8% of you do. I have to go through all the cities mentioned, but it looks like I have big readerships on the east coast, the west coast, and the UK, which I suppose it’s totally surprising.
With regards to advertising and subscriptions, most of you are fine with an ad here and there and fine with the current subscription price. Great!
With regards to what I offer for paying subscribers, survey takers overwhelmingly want a big digest-y bonus issue focusing on trends, memes, and creators. Simple enough! You’ll hear more on that shortly. (If you have thoughts on what day it should come out, let me know.)
And finally, the majority of you are not interested in Garbage Day video content (at least right now). Which is also easy enough to ignore. It’s a big time suck.
Thanks for taking the survey those of you who did. I was waffling between a few things and this really helped clarify some stuff. Also, while I was on vacation Garbage Day rolled over 30,000 total readers which is just an outrageous amount of people and I feel incredibly lucky that I get keep writing this crazy thing. If you’re curious about paywalled content coming soon and interested throwing in a few bucks, hit the green button below.
***Any typos in this email are on purpose actually***