Posted by: admiralfrum | February 9, 2010

Book Report: The Game

I just finished reading The Game by Neil Strauss. It was an interesting read and a real page turner, though it could be very crass at times. It is a true story about a subculture devoted to picking up women.
At first it was intriguing because of the premise it offered, that women could be gamed, their emotions expertly manipulated by anyone willing to spend the time to learn the necessary skills. However as the book wore on the players displayed an incredible amount of narcissism, their thin bravado matched only by their insecurity.
The strategies described in the book rely on creating the impression of confidence and security without directly addressing the underlying personality problems of the ‘pick up artists’. However the book was still refreshing because showed how social skills are just that – skills that can be learned and taught. In particular it reminded me of the importance of confidence in human interactions, in being “comfortable in one’s own skin”. I am usually self-aware when I’m uncomfortable, I won’t maintain eye contact or I’ll fidget. Such things radiate insecurity, but I never knew how to address them. Knowing that learning social skills can help one cope and eventually overcome this was refreshing.
Another helpful point the book stressed was that playing too strongly to women can read as neediness (because it is). If a man falls over himself speaking to a girl trying to ‘win her over’, why should she be interested? There is a law of attraction – just as men are attracted to women, so too are women attracted to men. We may be nervous talking to them, but they are probably nervous as well; there’s no reason to be intimidated.
From time to time I like to chat with fein yiddishe meidlech. I am sometimes nervous, especially around the extra-fein ones, but since reading the book I notice that they are often nervous or awkward when speaking to me. I realize that the attraction is mutual, and my confidence improves because I don’t have to throw myself at them. Instead I can ease back and play the old fashioned ‘hot-and-cold’. With a more interactive dialogue I am better at reading their ‘IOIs’, so-called Indicators of Interest.
Another interesting point in the book was describing the ‘AMOG’, the Alpha Male of the Group. The archetypical male, who projects confidence and control in any situation. I’m familiar with the type, but the book postulates that the primary trait of the amog is the use of a large smile. I never thought about it before but I realize that it is profoundly true, the best master of a situation has a big smile that can disarm weaker personalities. When someone has a big smile they become the center of attention in a room, everyone wonders “what is so special about that guy?”. That’s not to say that one needs to have a dopey grin permanently plastered on one’s face. But a smile is a weapon, don’t forget that in mammalian species it is usually a sign of aggression.
I remember going to public school in England, teachers would often reprimand students for smiling too much. Just British conformism I guess, tall poppy syndrome in action. The teachers weren’t in control of the situation, so they try to maintain control by pushing down the students, not by leading.

At any rate it was a good read and I’m now looking for something more to develop my playa-lifestyle. I just started How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes and it seems to be just the thing.

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