For 2017, I hope to resume my blogging on at this site. I partially blame my recent absence on a new job that presented a new challenge for me, and that challenge was to try to make interesting an inherently uninteresting job. I have been pursuing that challenge as vigorously as if I were pursuing a lofty goal with some imagined big pay off in reputation, status, or authority. My ambition for my recent efforts is for a goal that no one would or should care about: the goal of making a job interesting.
Now that I state it that way, I can characterize all of my prior job experiences as having the same kind of goal. Solving the puzzle of how to turning a job opportunity into something that would better suit my personality, temperament, and world view. I tend to be on the periphery of popular trends so that it is unlikely that a job opening matching my interests would suddenly open up because of a vacancy of someone else doing the same thing earlier. In the few cases where such a job opening did appear, I would fail to deliver the experience and credentials to convince that employer that I was qualified. Instead, I try to shine from the bounds of a dull job.
Because my new job is unlike prior jobs, it is changing my viewpoint in terms of what I will be wanting to blog about. Despite that, hypothesis discovery remains a good description of my approach in life. I remain fascinated by data and by the idea of a government of, for, and by data.
When I first started this blog, I had started my fourth period of voluntary employment with my working life. In prior periods of unemployment, I had the confidence of my youth that I would be able to get my career on track. I was confident of my ability to impress a new employer. I overlooked the value of my youth: for better or for worse, employers are more willing to gamble on younger talent because there was room to develop that talent into a career ladder. When I voluntarily left my career in my early 50s, I realized that I lost that advantage of youth. I remain confident in my capability to become successful, but that success is now unlikely to come through employment from another company. I lack the qualifications to enter in a senior role, and I lack the youth to qualify for a low-rung on a career ladder position. I assert that I’m fine with that.
I am very content with my current situation of a job without any pretense of it being or becoming a career. More than any prior job, this job is merely a source of a paycheck and that’s all I expect from it. I think this new approach to working is a result of the period of employment when I started this blog. I had time to think about workforce participation informed by my personal experience.
One of the themes of my earlier blog posts was justifying the idea of voluntarily leaving the workforce. A sense of guilt motivated me to seek out a justification for why I kept abandoning jobs at points when my career was still ascending with lots of confidence that I could achieve much more. At times, I imagined a deliberate attempt to reject my ambition. Quitting while I had more opportunity was my way of stating that I was not ambitious.
I like the idea of being anti-ambitious, but the more I thought about it, I realized it was just a story I wrote for myself. It is a useful story to use to answer “what I do” when it comes up when I socialize with others. It makes a nice non-answer. I don’t have to explain what I do because I have no ambition in doing what I do.
It is a lie, of course. I am intensely ambitious, and always had been. I don’t mind admitting to the fact I have an exaggerated view of my capabilities. I accept it is delusional to brag of capabilities that I do not demonstrate to others. This delusion got me this far so I will continue sustaining it.
There are downsides to this delusion. Obviously, I never achieve the level of career success that I assert I am a capable of achieving, butI would argue that I am not really interested in that kind of success. The bigger downside is that I’m still among the never married population despite being in my mid 50s.
I would clarify that I have very traditionally moral thoughts on marriage. Among the topics I discussed here, marriage is one that I am most interested in and yet least able to really talk about. Part of my difficulty in discussing my views on marriage is hard to place in context of modern conversations on marriage or similar committed relationships.
It is valid to describe my views on marriage to be the stereotypical depiction of the religious right. Specifically, I believe marriage is a life long commitment between a man and a woman. I recall being convinced at the age of 12 that marriage is an important if not essential part of human development for moral character that benefits the wider community as well as leadership within careers. However, unlike the religious right, I don’t see my views as being relevant to anyone else but myself. Besides, I have no interest in promoting a viewpoint that is so clearly unobtainable in the modern world. Yet, I continue to hold onto that concept for my own private standards.
I have valued celibacy outside of marriage and I practiced that. Through different times of my life, I have had others noticed my lack of relationship partners. During high school, a girl asked whether I was gay for not paying more attention to women. During young adulthood, women asked why I hated women, or conjectured that I only sought out unobtainable women. Neither was true. I imagine that I just as eager for women companionship as any other man of the age at the time, I was just stubborn in avoiding acting on those urges.
To be honest, I did meet many women throughout my adult life. These were introductory dates and dinner dates to get to know each other better. Much more often than not, I was impressed that I was meeting someone who I could fall in love with. They were attractive enough. More importantly, they were interesting to be with. I enjoyed their company.
Despite the promising early impressions across all these introductions, they all failed to get past that stage. If I were so convinced in the necessity of marriage in my life, why did I always pass up on so many good opportunities.
Over the years I developed various explanations or excuses. These were story-book explanations. Explanations that could be a good basis for explaining a character in an novel. None really made sense, or at least none ever seemed to explain the root of the problem.
In the past few years, I have thought about it some more and realized the wisdom of one of my earlier acquaintances when she mentioned that I had just acted in passive-aggressive manner. Her saying that ruined the rest of the date while I tried to understand what I had done. I liked her and we met a few more times but that accusation was unrecoverable. I thought about that recently, and realized that I have always been subconsciously sabotaging all of my relationship opportunities including those that I was consciously pursuing.
I want to clarify that while I may have been frustrated by my serial failures at starting relationships, I was never really upset by them. Each of the failures seemed natural and inevitably a result of my own personality. It was easy to dismiss myself as socially inept especially since I don’t mind being that way. I am sure I do not have to convince anyone who knows me that I lack social skills. At least a conscious level, I have no suspicions of the motives or trustworthiness of women I meet.
I’m convinced there is something going on that causes me to abandon the opportunities that did come up. I did make a couple attempts at talk therapy to find some subconscious understanding but those were unsatisfactory. They would counter that I gave up too early, and I admit they may be right. The reason why I gave up is that I didn’t believe there would be anything constructive to gain by understanding a subconscious explanation or replacing one subconscious behavior with another.
Now, I think my earlier diagnosis was wrong. I was not subconsciously sabotaging relationship opportunities. I was very deliberately sabotaging them after a conscious decision. That conscious decision was for a different matter and I failed at the time to see the connection. I didn’t decide to terminate the relationship and as a result I was inept at ending it in a gentlemanly manner, a fact that I regret. Instead I decided that something else was more important than pursuing the relationship at the time.
This is a contradiction. I say I believe that marriage is important for my life. In fact, I say it is essential. What can be more important than something that is essential? Certainly not my job especially after admitting that I never took my career that seriously.
I may have found the answer to this contradiction after spending some time on YouTube watching a variety of videos under the categories of MGTOW (men going their own way), men’s rights, etc.
I became interested in MGTOW at first because it seemed the discussions were of people who were like me.
I recall in my 20s wondering why I was so frustrated. This was in the 1980s when I wasn’t going out of my way to avoid computers at that time before Internet became a thing. I imagined there must be a large number of people who were confronting similar thoughts but from different perspectives. We were isolated with no way to share ideas. Through the next two decades, I expanded the number of people I met and concluded that I was mistaken.
There were no other like-minded people until I encountered the recent MGTOW discussions. Finally, it seemed, that there were other people who at least were experiencing life the same way. Specifically, there are many other men choosing to live alone and to avoid relationships especially those with emotional commitments.
My interest in learning more about the men’s right movement, a topic that led me to the idea of MGTOW, was not entirely for my personal needs. I am intrigued by the recent phenomena of declining participation by men in careers, jobs, education, and of course marriage. I want to understand what is underlying this phenomena to better adapt a strategy for living the rest of my life in a way to take advantage of what is current.
At first, the arguments presented by the men’s right movement and MGTOW seemed offer a compelling explanation for declining participation rates. I still think it is a significant phenomena, but I doubt it explains the majority of cases of declining participation.
I am certain that these concepts do not explain my own lack of participation.
Unlike the men’s rights activists, I have no disagreeable experiences with past women although I agree with assessments such as this. Certainly, I have no experiences of bad break-ups that led to large monetary losses or legal problems. Also, even though I accept the reality of the current environment surrounding family law, I am not intimidated by it. This is just my personality, but if I had an adverse encounter with divorce courts, I would just adjust my life around the new reality. I believe I would take the judgment in stride and in fact see it as an opportunity to refocus my life given the current situation even if that situation ended up putting me in jail for being unable to pay alimony or child support. Of course, I have no way of knowing how I would actually respond if I had been confronted with these problems. I am inclined to think optimistically that I would find a way to get on with my life in spite of it.
I also do not share MGTOW’s distrust in female nature, her hypergamy, her manipulative talents, etc. I don’t disagree with the concepts, I just don’t share the distrust in the reality that women have a different perspective and drive. Unlike the hard line MGTOW advocates, I would not hesitate to pursue a traditional marriage if it were possible. That said, I do share with MGTOW a resignation that a traditional marriage, at least for me, is no longer possible.
I think it is useful to contrast my experience with the ones who have published videos describing their going MGTOW. I have no prior experience with committed relationships, even short term ones. As a result, I can not complain to have made a choice to go MGTOW. For my full adult life, I have been going my own way absent any committed emotional relationships.
Recalling the discussions of declining participation by men in work and in relationships, I suspect a good fraction of this involves people more like myself. For one thing, this has been going on for a long time, certainly a long time before anyone came up with the term MGTOW.
In my younger years, I recall this discussed as some failing by men, a failing that I took personally. This was described as the Peter Pan syndrome, the failure to launch, or a fear of commitment. Furthermore, the proponents of these diagnosis listed traits such as addiction to drugs, pornography, gaming, or TV watching: none of which remotely described my experience. I never tried any drugs, I never understood the appeal to even alcohol. For most of my life I didn’t even have a TV. I never enjoyed video games because I would prefer to write my own than to play someone else’s. I quickly bored of pornography and even then didn’t find much appeal beyond soft porn.
I doubt that I am alone in this experience. Modern culture has a very unrealistic view of men. Any sub-population that includes me must be described as having little to no interest in the listed traits. We do not fear commitments. Our failing is taking commitments too seriously, and that especially applies to the commitment to start a family even if that family turns out to be childless.
The traditional concept of a relationship at least promotes the seriousness of the commitment involved. Many like me may take this commitment more seriously than the more popular concept of men’s attitudes. Maybe we take this commitment too seriously to be healthy. Maybe our seriousness is an anachronism that is no longer relevant in the modern world. That does not preclude the possibility that this attitude can still exist.
I have no idea how common my views are. I may alone. I suspect there are many others like me. I doubt our population is a majority of the men not participating in relationships, but I suspect our population is comparable to those who agree with the MGTOW suspicions of women and of gynocentrism.
Like MGTOW, my group is a collection of men going their own way, living alone and apart from partners, redefining a sustainable lifestyle the deemphasizes career and income growth, and dropping out of the workforce whenever that is feasible.
We have different reasons for doing so.
We are not suspicious of female nature. We are not intimidated by gynocentrism. We may disagree with feminism or other social trends that challenge male identity, but we imagine that we can co-exist with this disagreement in place.
If all this is true, then why aren’t we participating? Why aren’t we making ourselves available for relationships that we admit that we would like to have?
I have no data about this group. I’m writing here only based on my personal experience and understanding. I assume that I am not alone. I suspect that people who share my viewpoints may be substantial enough in population to merit a more thorough study. Such a study may advance the understanding of why men in particular are making themselves unavailable for relationships that in turn would motivate pursuit of higher earning careers to fund those relationships.
After some thought of the various peer discussions on YouTube concerning the modern conflicting views between men and women in terms of relationships, I came up with an explanation that works well to describe my own experience.
To give this concept a name to contrast with MGTOW, I suggest the term MUTAW: men unable to afford women.
The reason why I abandoned so many promising opportunities at a relationship is because I realized early on that I cannot afford the ensuing relationship. Like I said earlier, I had initially imagined that I subconsciously sabotaged the opportunity, but later I realized I had in fact made an unrelated decision that had the consequence of abandoning the relationship. That unrelated decision was a result of a review of my financial ability to deliver what she expected from me in the relationship.
In other words, after doing the math, I realized I could not afford each particular woman I met.
The analogy is going to a luxury car dealership and viewing the high-end model cars, being sold on a particular model, but then walking out without purchasing the car.
Personally, I appreciate the quality of many luxury items. I admire the workmanship. I appreciate the quality or fineness of the material. I recognize the quality of performance as beyond what is available from more affordable options. In the ideal world, I would be an owner of such luxuries.
In the car analogy, I drive a very small car with a 3-cylinder engine and where all the body panels are plastic. While I like this car for what it is good for, my ideal would be that it would be my second car to use for local errands. My primary ride would be car worth five times as much. The fact that I don’t have that more expensive car does not mean I don’t want that more expensive car. I don’t own the more expensive car because I can’t afford it.
Similarly, the reason why I don’t date women is not because I don’t want to date women. The reason is that I can’t afford to.
This takes some explanation.
I can afford an occasional date, even an expensive data at an elegant restaurant and a exclusive performance somewhere. Similarly, I can afford an adventuresome multi-week vacation requiring travel to some other part of the globe.
What I can’t afford is doing either on a regular enough basis to satisfy the women I meet. When the topic of children came up (her current children or the prospect of future ones), I could have afforded the examples of what she expects for the child, but I couldn’t keep it up for the duration. I would be committed to supporting the child, but my budget for doing so would be lower than what she expected.
More realistically than the above examples though, these women were not demanding the described extravagance in entertainment or travel. Their expectations were very reasonable in modern terms.
The necessities of life are very affordable in modern times. The problem is that the modern expectation for quality of life, even at a modest level, far exceeds what is necessary. I wish I could afford it, but I can’t.
A reasonable objection is that I have had secure jobs that could have afforded the lifestyle that I believed would be needed to keep the relationship intact for the long term. That is true enough, but my calculation was that I would not be able to last in the jobs.
My career is in technology. Technology jobs are paid well, but technology changes very rapidly. While I could stay with an employer for a long period of time, within a few years the work I would be working on would be relevant only to that one employer. Even within that employer, I would recognize that he would be better off adopting some new technology that would obviate my job entirely. To be sure, there are many jobs supporting legacy technologies indefinitely and these provide secure employment to experienced workers because it is very difficult to find a replacement staff skilled in obsolete technology. I recognized that I would not be a good fit in such an opportunity.
It was obvious to me that I would go through many employers, often taking a pay cut from one job to the next because I would not have the relevant experience in the latest technology.
I realized that my income prospects would not follow the ideal growth curve where each successive year would bring in more income than the prior year. I looked ahead and saw that there would be long periods of unemployment followed by new jobs making less than I was making before. I compared this income trajectory to the expectation I see from society as a whole as well as the expectations of the women I would meet.
It was clear to me that my ability to deliver a satisfactory income would not meet what she expected from a relationship. I realized she didn’t need me because there are other men who could deliver, or least promise to deliver, what she expected.
In addition to the shortfall in income was the short-fall in free time. I spend a lot of time at my job. I spend a substantial amount of my free time preparing myself for future work, either formally in training or informally just trying to understand where technology is heading what to be prepare for.
I actually have it easier than some of many of my peers who are constantly preparing for additional certifications that require months of study, difficult certification exams, and continuous education requirements. Many use their vacation hours to attend bootcamp style training sessions that culminate in certifying exams. This is time that is not available for a family vacation.
On the other hand, I make it harder for myself because I insist on having no debt and a healthy savings to weather through future periods of unemployment where those periods can last two or more years.
I take relationship commitments very seriously. If I do ever get into a commitment and find myself in a budget shortfall to deliver what modern times expect for a relationship, it is easy to imagine that this may be next to impossible to achieve, and the inevitable result would be an unpleasant divorce. I admit that this qualifies as a fear of commitment, but I assert that this fear is very reasonable. I am certain that I would not be able to sustain the lifestyle I may have at any time, even during those times when I’m unemployed.
I am also certain that eventually there would be times when I can afford more, but the hard times may last for years. On balance, the years of disappointment in earnings will exceed the years that meet or exceed expectations.
I am old enough to look back and imagine what it might have been like had I pursued a marriage with the eligible women I met in the past. In each case, I realized my eventual employment and income experience would have been severely disappointing to her. In each case, she would likely have demanded a divorce I wouldn’t have blamed her.
In retrospect, I am glad I went my own way and avoided any relationship. I was the only one who had to endure the ups and downs of trying to stay relevant in the modern world. Alone, I adapted by making adjustments to the point where I got by on less without feeling like I was shortchanging myself. I’m convinced there would have been more tears had I had a modern woman for a wife.
When I was younger I accurately predicated that I could not afford a relationship with someone in these modern times. I imagine that there are many others like me: MUTAW instead of MGTOW.