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All these over-the-top consequences – the mockery, the social expulsion, even being jailed – are ways our brain protects us from the fear of rejection.
Don’t get me wrong: the discomfort and anxiety that Aaronson and so many others feel is very real – our bodies respond to imagined fears the same way they respond to fear: getting rejected by someone we’re attracted to.
Google will inevitably tell you that you have cancer.
By looking for information without context to you get results that are unhelpful at best and terrifying at worst.
The problem is that Aaronson made the same mistake that many other nerds and Nice Guys have made: he misunderstood the point of what he was reading.
But first, some context: Over the last week or so, I had several people forward me links to this comment from MIT Professor Scott Aaronson’s blog about growing up as a nerd terrified of women and trying to be a Nice Guy and how this meant that nerds couldn’t be keeping women out of STEM fields.
Of course, this too becomes its own invitation to comment as Scott Alexander rode to Professor Aaronson’s defense ((And believe me, Alexander’s got enough bullshit for me to handle in a future column. Critically, they’re held forth as reasons why Nice Guys deserve a break instead of the opprobrium they receive and why it’s unfair for women to treat them with disdain, with a dash of nerd victim culture and privilege for flavor.
So let’s dive back into the Nice Guy debate, shall we?
The problem isn’t in the desire, it’s in the belief.
At their core, these imagined nightmares are about ego protection.