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DNL's post about his inappropriate behavior

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Post by inbloomer on Tue Jul 07, 2020 1:58 pm

The conclusion I'd already come to before this particular story broke is as follows. I don't have a problem with people giving dating advice, based on a combination of their own lived experience and secondary sources. I don't think that to give such advice, your own personal life has to be in a perfect state. Like in sport, great coaches aren't always great players.

What I have no time for is the messianic stuff. The "everyone up to this point, for 10,000 years of human civilisation, has been doing sex and relationships wrong. I with my small echo chamber have developed the perfect attitude and process, under which everyone gets the sex they want and no-one gets hurt. Everyone should follow my teachings" line.

Aside from being breathtakingly arrogant and unrealistic, I think it can lead people even with initially good intentions into a cult-like mentality, where anyone who doesn't subscribe wholeheartedly to the creed is an enemy to be fought, rather than someone whose experiences and sources are just a bit different.


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Post by Hielario on Wed Jul 08, 2020 1:38 pm

If nothing else, maybe this will lead DNL to consider the matter of the social risks inherent in some of his recommended approaches, for the one doing them.

One of the many reasons I stopped reading dating advice (not only DNL, I've had similar issues once or twice with otherwise great advisors) is that a lot of what it recommends felt risky as hell without a solid social position. As a man with asperger's one of my problems is precisely that I have a precarious social standing. If I mess up? If I make someone even slightly uncomfortable? If I deviate even slightly from whatever's socially acceptable this week? I'm screwed, and not in the fun way. Since I'm not acceptable, I don't get defended or excused the way others do. Every error and deviation gets magnified and exaggerated in conversation.

In matters related to romance or sex, that means I risk being considered some sort of gross pervert/annoying people/weird in a dangerous sense. So certain behaviours feel dangerous, both because I depend a lot more than it's usual on having a "good" reputation (since my social position is very precarious),and becuse said reputation is more vulnerable. A lot of his advice made me think: "this could get me in trouble very easily" or "I don't think I could get away with this".

And, no offense, but I'm pretty sure that if someone else is nerdy and needs this sort of advice, they're also teetering in the edge of what's socially acceptable, so a lot of readers probably have to deal with the dangers of a messed up reputation.
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Post by Werel on Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:12 pm

Yeah, leading with a post on, say, restorative justice through doing the work internally and taking concrete steps towards improved behavior might have been a better look. But: shutting up for a while and platforming other people is probably a pretty solid move. I just sort of wish he'd platform people who were comfortable taking him to task in a constructive way, e.g. "here is why that was a dick move, Harris! Here's some advice on how not to be a dick like that, readers."
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Post by Datelessman on Mon Jul 13, 2020 4:01 am

inbloomer wrote:Aside from being breathtakingly arrogant and unrealistic, I think it can lead people even with initially good intentions into a cult-like mentality, where anyone who doesn't subscribe wholeheartedly to the creed is an enemy to be fought, rather than someone whose experiences and sources are just a bit different.

I can imagine that this could or should be a humbling experience for DNL and it'll be interesting to see if this is reflected in his next work.

Enail wrote:Agreed, that timing doesn't speak well for him at all.

Glad I wasn't alone on that one. It seemed awkward to me.

Hielario wrote:If nothing else, maybe this will lead DNL to consider the matter of the social risks inherent in some of his recommended approaches, for the one doing them.

That's certainly a possibility. I kind of doubt it personally but I've been wrong often.

Werel wrote:Yeah, leading with a post on, say, restorative justice through doing the work internally and taking concrete steps towards improved behavior might have been a better look. But: shutting up for a while and platforming other people is probably a pretty solid move. I just sort of wish he'd platform people who were comfortable taking him to task in a constructive way, e.g. "here is why that was a dick move, Harris! Here's some advice on how not to be a dick like that, readers."

The problem is that DNL didn't choose to take a break and hand over reigns to his website for a week or so in order to reflect on the incident or give his techniques a rethink or anything like that. As explained in his "random post" topic (https://www.doctornerdlove.com/well-be-back-after-these-brief-messages/), it's merely because he'd originally cleared this spot on his calendar with his wife for a vacation, and since COVID-19 squashed it, they're deciding to use the time to take off anyway. It's all a matter of bad timing.

On the one hand, I admire DNL being honest and acknowledging his vanishing act on the heels of this incident was a result of salvaging vacation plans. On the other hand, him saying it was to reflect on events may have done his public relations efforts more of a jolt. It's not like anyone online could have found out otherwise. Because now it seems that DNL is conveniently lying low.

As for the guest posts, his second one (https://www.doctornerdlove.com/fixing-the-missing-stair-with-cliff-jerrison/) essentially acknowledged that DNL gives them the topic; they just go off on it in their own way. Which means that initial post by a "real" doctor which was awkwardly self serving had a premise which DNL handed her.

That article is about "fixing the missing stair," essentially, sorting out how to confront that problematic person in your social circle.

I will say that while the revelations have decimated DNL's website forums -- activity outside his revelation article and that first guest column remains large and everything since has been death -- they've been confined there. It hasn't cropped up in any of the other websites where DNL either writes original articles (Kotaku) or posts old articles (Good Men Project & UExpress). UExpress, in particular, would have gone hog wild with it since the commentors there are pretty horrific and already give DNL awful nicknames (like "Dr. Wordlove" or "Dr. Pervlove"). No one on his YouTube channel has brought it up; that could also be that his videos tend to average 2-5k views. And "The Mary Sue," a website which covers the feminist perspective in geekery, would have probably posted something since they frequently quote him (especially after his Garth Ennis article). So either his PR effort has been successful, or that his modest internet empire is too modest for this to really blemish outside his main website. The problem is that's likely still where he generates most of his revenue.
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Post by inbloomer on Mon Jul 13, 2020 10:31 am

Yeah, I think the dog that didn't bark is pertinent here. Given there's no scarcity of people who have issues with their dating lives, and he's been doing this for years and his stuff is high in Google rankings, there are very few people who are actually engaging with it on a regular basis.

There are probably multiple reasons for that, some of which are well out of his control. But it's worth thinking what those might be. Certainly would be worth it for him.

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Post by Datelessman on Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:08 am

Today (or yesterday, technically), DNL posted his first "real" article since the revelation. I hardly intend to comment on all his posts here, but I figured the first "real" once after his "staycation" ended would be interesting. To see where his head is at after events have forced him to think about his behavior. https://www.doctornerdlove.com/how-to-unlearn-what-you-have-learned/

And yes, I still wonder how the woman who was the target of all this is doing, I just don't follow her feed. In the grand scheme of things she's the one who needs closure the most. But, it's DNL's spin off forum, so.

Anyway, DNL's first article in this bold new world is inspired by Yoda's famous quote, "How To Unlearn What You Have Learned." It's essentially an article about the tenacity of toxic masculinity in society and how everyone, especially straight men, have been living within its soup so long that even the "woke" can't always be aware of it until they're neck deep sometimes. He does repeat a lot of his standard philosophies against toxic masculinity, but the key here is the subtext between the lines. He doesn't mention specifics (perhaps to spare the woman involved from more attention) but he mentions more than once that he's included in the ranks of those who need to learn and, in fact, can't ever feel they need to stop learning. I did get the sense that this was an emotional piece for him, and he's being genuine. He includes bits like having friends willing to both support and criticize as well as realizing that one never fully "defeats" one's dark impulses, but has to constantly battle and understand them.

It's a good article; arguably one of DNL's best in a while even if it does repeat some familiar opinions. His replies for it have been slight, though.

On the other hand, there was that small part of me that was thinking, "is it really the woes of oppressive toxic masculinity throughout all society when someone touches a woman's hair despite being told not to, doesn't even realize he did wrong, and flubs an email apology a year later?" But maybe that tiny voice was being unfair.

I mean, when (often) I blame my long term datelessness on society's negative views of virgins and socially awkward men, I occasionally get replies to the effect of, "nah, you're just too chicken to try because of your own inaccurate self-generating delusions about women." But then again, I never published a book or have been quoted by The Mary Sue. I was quoted once in Previews and the back covers of two indie comics' back covers, but that's not the same. Shrug
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Post by inbloomer on Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:27 pm

Yeah, all these post-revelation articles are like watching the ball get within millimetres of the hole, but then roll off down a ravine. It's not that toxic masculinity doesn't exist or that there aren't harmful messages circulating in society. It's the chronocentricism that's the problem: the belief that we in the age of Twitter are uniquely qualified to make the correct judgments about what's right and what's appropriate. And yes, that his particular small woke circle is even more qualified than the rest of us, and that the gaps in their knowledge are shared by everyone else.

I've seen a similar thing when people look back at Bill Hicks's work. Although he's still generally seen as a legendary comedian, aspects of his work have got more tarnished. He was full of "don't believe anything The Man tells you!" Watching back now, the reaction to that tends to be well, why should we believe everything you tell us? You're ... a dude who's lived a bit. That's all.


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Post by Datelessman on Thu Jul 16, 2020 5:46 am

inbloomer wrote:Yeah, all these post-revelation articles are like watching the ball get within millimetres of the hole, but then roll off down a ravine. It's not that toxic masculinity doesn't exist or that there aren't harmful messages circulating in society. It's the chronocentricism that's the problem: the belief that we in the age of Twitter are uniquely qualified to make the correct judgments about what's right and what's appropriate. And yes, that his particular small woke circle is even more qualified than the rest of us, and that the gaps in their knowledge are shared by everyone else.

In fairness, I do believe there has been progress in collective social consciousness to a degree over the past 50 or so years (at least on average). Things that were accepted even 20 years ago are less so now. Heck, many of the current philosophies about toxic masculinity that have become more mainstream are less than a decade old, even if some people were discussing it forever.

I guess I took some pause at the idea of blaming "society," which is an easy target, when sometimes the fault is within. Society may the cause of certain beliefs but ultimately we all have to take some responsibility. You don't need to be a Jedi master in woke to avoid touching a woman's hair after she tells you no, or even remembering crossing a boundary a year later. I'm the least sexy man alive and I wouldn't make such a blunder; it's not like I was never in bars, clubs, or house parties before.

But on the other hand, DNL can't apologize forever and he was at least using his experience as ore for the article, even if in subtext.

One thing that is noteworthy since the revelation, and especially since that first guest post about "forgiving problematic flirting" is the tumbleweeds going by on the main DNL forums. From July 8th to July 15th there have been 4 articles, including 2 by DNL himself as he gets back in the saddle. Those four articles have gotten 4 replies combined, and that includes 3 for one of them. The two by DNL himself have gotten 1 reply. Maybe it's the holiday or Covid or something, or it could be a reaction by the audience.


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Post by Enail on Thu Jul 16, 2020 1:38 pm

The blog comments have been considerably less chatty for longer than that, it's not uncommon to have several articles in a row with silence there lately, so I don't know that it means anything in terms of his audience.  Though several people did say they were leaving based on the article choices and/or how the moderation was handled, so maybe it does; if so, I'd say it's more based on a longer-running dissatisfaction than purely on this situation.
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Post by inbloomer on Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:12 pm

Yes, the direction of travel has been downward for quite a while.

One of the most devastating comments on reddit about the revelation was "he's not even a nerd!" I've been aware for a while that the people who want to set themselves up as sex advice gurus often are from that "alternative" community - people who are into body art, polyamory and niche kinks. Whereas the people seeking advice are often nerds in a much more classical sense: people who have grown up with a world view that is some form of the Protestant work ethic. He has tried to cater to that audience as well, but it's never felt like he quite knows how to speak to those people, and while there were various ones on his forums I think they've all moved on.

Before I found DNL I was on a site that was quite similar. These guys had developed some big theory about how to interact with women, and it had the most ludicrously pretentious set of acknowledgements. Like, "our theory incorporates ideas from Christianity, Buddhism, Plato, Seneca, Diderot, Spinoza, Einstein's Theory of Relativity, the Riemann Hypothesis... We thank these great thinkers on whose shoulders we stand". When you actually looked closely ... yeah, it was body art and polyamory. They were one of those who had real videos of them approaching women, and it was hilarious to watch them get totally and utterly shot down. DNL never did that - I'd sure he'd claim because of ethics, but we may now know the real reason...


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Post by Datelessman on Fri Jul 17, 2020 1:44 am

Enail wrote:The blog comments have been considerably less chatty for longer than that, it's not uncommon to have several articles in a row with silence there lately, so I don't know that it means anything in terms of his audience.  Though several people did say they were leaving based on the article choices and/or how the moderation was handled, so maybe it does; if so, I'd say it's more based on a longer-running dissatisfaction than purely on this situation.

I've lurked the main page often and while I'll admit his forums are way slower than in the heyday, I do wonder if this slow patch is coincidental or not. Time will tell, I guess.

inbloomer wrote:Yes, the direction of travel has been downward for quite a while.

One of the most devastating comments on reddit about the revelation was "he's not even a nerd!" I've been aware for a while that the people who want to set themselves up as sex advice gurus often are from that "alternative" community - people who are into body art, polyamory and niche kinks. Whereas the people seeking advice are often nerds in a much more classical sense: people who have grown up with a world view that is some form of the Protestant work ethic. He has tried to cater to that audience as well, but it's never felt like he quite knows how to speak to those people, and while there were various ones on his forums I think they've all moved on.

I hadn't really surfed Reddit (I usually consider it only a step above 4Chan) but I do know it's one of the few online areas which seemed to have much reaction to this outside of DNL's website. At least so far.

I'm a little hesitant to get into a "who can call themselves a nerd" debate if only because in the comic book circles I run with, I'd seen that philosophy used as a cudgel against women a darn lot (especially in the MCU where where "hot Chrises" play many heroes). The context is different (beyond some ironic tumblr posts, nobody really accuses men of being "fake geek guys" in anywhere near as often a manner as the reverse), but I won't go there just because the genders are different. DNL may have been "mainstream" enough to be a stud in the club scene as a PUA before he had his breakdown, but he's not exactly a three suit wearing "finance bro" or anything.

The only thing I consistently get on DNL about is when he genuinely feels he came from the same place as older virgins because he didn't get laid until 19.

Dr. Nerdlove is of course his mantle since he gears his advice to geeky men in particular, but he's really about taking some of the few fundamental truths of PUA and trying to smooth out the edges and insert more feminist and humanist ideals into it. It does seem old habits can die hard.

I think you do have a fair point about social networks forming around said gurus and DNL perhaps had a sense of having a big enough head that he could do no wrong. Then he clearly did and it's come back to bite him.
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Post by inbloomer on Fri Jul 17, 2020 7:10 am

That may be another thing where there's a difference between British and American culture. For me, "nerd" usually brings to mind people I saw at school and university, who spent hours and hours with big piles of books in the library and may also have worked hard at respectable hobbies like running or classical music, but weren't getting that much practice at socialising.

People really into comics and manga, with tattoos/piercings and blue/pink hair, I'd describe as "alternative" or in some cases "goth". There are certain places a lot of them go and live, especially Brighton.

I'm not trying to diss the latter, I just think that the right dating advice for one type may not be that relevant to the other.

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Post by Datelessman on Mon Jul 20, 2020 3:00 am

It does look like Enail was right on the money in terms of DNL'S forums being slow. His July 17th letter column has seen 20 replies. That's better than the last week but still a little underwhelming, especially as someone who has been reading the site for years.

It was a standard column and it looks like DNL is moving on and getting back to business. But will business get back to him?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

It will be interesting the next time a "how do I flirt with women at a bar" letter comes up.
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