How the Internet Screws Up Marriage Advice

(Lightly edited from the transcript… most of the jokes are captions by the Nice Card Mean Card peeps in the video though.)

Hello beautiful people, my name is Athol. I do daily videos talking about relationships and the world in which we have our relationships.

In this episode I want to talk about one of the ways the internet itself can screw up marriage advice. Because if you’ve ever noticed, there is an awful lot of marriage advice on the internet. There’s books and forums and Reddits and all kinds of things, but they tend to be at war with each other. There’s a lot of demonizing of everybody else’s advice and there’s really discreet cohorts that exist out there. So I’m going to talk about that in this episode.

And of course I’m going to use my Nice Card Mean Card little people, because they just explain everything so well.

Nice NiceAlrighty, so let’s take the first cohort. This is the one where people are generally perceived that both men and women are Nice by default. In this group you get a lot of the Christian marriage bloggers. You get a lot of Christian forums where everything is nice and sweet and they’re tossing Bible verses backwards and forwards and everything is beautiful and lovely and praiseworthy. You also get a lot of pro-social based relationship researchers and marriage therapists and marriage counselors and that sort of stuff where they’re basically trying to take this view that both men and women are Nice by default. (Edit: Or at least should be Nice by divine or therapeutic fiat.)

Nice MeanThe second group looks at women as basically Nice but men as basically somewhat questionable, Mean to evil. In these groups you get women who’ve written books about relationships where they’ve talked about their jerk boyfriends and how to stand up for yourself and how to not be taken advantage of by men in relationships. You get feminist viewpoint stuff, and while they may not necessarily think that any one man is necessarily evil, there is an evil society. There is a patriarchy that is oppressing women. Also you get the blogs and advice sites from people like divorce lawyers who are trying to bring to an end some really toxic, hostile relationships where obviously the guy is just evil and the woman is being genuinely abused, whether that is emotional, physical, sexual, whatever. Definitely being screwed over. You get places where people are going who have been sexual assault victims and they have support groups for them.

Mean Nice The third group is where women are basically seen as the Mean ones and men as the good ones. So you have Nice guy recovery books where obviously the guy has to stand up for himself more, but somehow magically the woman in the picture, whether it’s his wife, girlfriend or his mother, is the true source of the problem. You get books about married game for guys, where they need to be more alpha, take a leadership role and stand up for themselves and push back on the evil woman testing them. There’s also the cheating wife revenge porn story trade around forums that you get too, where the evil woman is caught and all the guys in the group get to laugh and say ha ha ha she got caught. I’ll also throw into this group the MGTOW movement, MGTOW: Men Going Their Own Way, where they’re basically saying the guys are good but the women are evil and it’s such a bad situation there’s no point even trying to have a relationship with them. So they just withdraw and not participate, because in their minds a man trying to have a relationship with a woman is like trying to ride a tandem bicycle with a crocodile.

Mean MeanThe fourth group is where they see both men and women being negatively motivated, basically Mean, and it’s a kind of a free for all everybody out for themselves type approach. Often they can be quite depressive about Western Civilization, believing it is all fading away so you might as well just enjoy the decline. The advice is pretty much everything sucks, everything is evil, so you might as well go dark side yourself and just get the most you can, have the most fun, drink the most drinks, party hard as it’s all over eventually anyway. They approach relationships the same way a corporate raider approaches a distressed business. It’s just like, we’re going in to get what we can. We’ll take everything we can from it and then we’ll get out and leave it collapsing behind us.


Enter SEO as a Double Edged Sword

Alrighty, so let’s invent a guy with a problem who’s now going to the internet where these four groups exist. So let’s say his name is Paul and his wife has cheated on him. He goes to Google, types in “my wife is cheating on me, what do I do?” and then Paul gets millions of results about cheating wives and how horrible women are and all this sort of stuff. Then he sifts through a couple of dozen websites and just keeps finding again and again this community of men who have also had their wives cheat on them. This is because they’ve searched on the internet as well and everybody’s starting to find each other.

What slowly happens over time is that community of blogs and forums and Reddit and whatever starts becoming an echo chamber for the original problem. Because of SEO, and people searching for this problem, more and more people keep coming into these groups and reinforcing the group’s idea of what the problem is. Slowly after time it becomes an echo chamber. Everybody they know has the same problem. Everybody they know has a cheating wife. Everybody they know had been married to some awful woman, therefore all women are cheats, all women are horrible and everything sucks. The men are the good guys and women are the bad guys, and it reinforces that groups perceptions.


Google Alerts!

So let’s take Paul’s example just one step further. He had the cheating wife, he searched on the internet, he found a group of like-minded guys. He’s part of the group. He feels part of the community and he wants to contribute. He decides to contribute by generating content, because everything on the internet needs content to survive. So what does he do? Well he ends up creating a bunch of Google alerts searching for “cheating wives”, “women doing mean things somewhere in the world”, “horrible women”, “bad things that women do”. Every day his email box fills with dozens of examples of women somewhere in the world doing something that is crappy. Then he takes a handful of those, publishes it to his blog, does a YouTube video about it and he starts pumping out this content, thus reinforcing the echo chamber. But again he’s only looking for the things that are bad and that are basically reinforcing the belief of man good, woman bad.


Same Problem all Four Groups of Advice Givers

This is happening everywhere. This is the same thing that happens like if you’re a feminist researcher. You have your Google alerts to find things of what men do wrong somewhere in the world. The problem is that this echo chamber thing is happening in all four groups all the time. None of these groups like talking to each other to any degree, because they are all listening to the echo chamber of their own group. They’re hearing constantly reinforcing messages in their own group. They don’t talk to the others and everybody is slowly demonizing everybody else. And once you demonize another group, there’s no point having a conversation, because who listens to demons?


The Takeaway

So what’s the takeaway to all of this? Well I think the takeaway is that all four of these groups are at least partially right some of the time. There’s some valuable thoughts and insights in all of these groups, but they’re not necessarily right all the time 24/7 and sometimes they can be badly wrong. I think the truth is starting to accept that both men and women can be either Nice or Mean and you have to judge each situation on its merits rather than just going to some sort of default assumption about the other. And also, not everyone is 100% Nice or 100% Mean, and just because they’ve been 10% Mean doesn’t mean we write them off as 100% Mean.

So summing up, absolutely go to the internet. Ask for advice. Look for advice. But just be aware that there are some echo chambers out there. And at the end of the day, all I’m saying is be mindful.

Alrighty so that’s the show. Thank you so much for watching. I truly do appreciate it.
If you’re new here please consider subscribing, and I will catch you tomorrow.

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