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The Myth of the Offline Man

Nick Russo

The Myth of the Offline Man

By February of 2022, a sufficient volume of normie e-girls had been fawning over their “offline boyfriends” for a sufficient length of time, and a sufficient number of more enterprising publications had already covered the trend, that the incurious and risk-averse staff of The Cut decided it had better at least churn out a milquetoast thinkpiece on the subject, to avoid appearing out of touch. Scattered randomly throughout the rambling, poorly written resultant essay are the fragments of a coherent thesis, strangely sane by Cut standards, that goes something like this: it is hot for a man to be utterly uninterested in trifling internet bullshit, and even hotter for him to be so self-confident that he doesn’t feel compelled to post in search of validation from strangers. Had the author simply written it’s gay to tweet as a man,” she could have communicated roughly the same message much more efficiently, and then gone back to delaying her confrontation with existential dread by “watching a woman microwave rice” on TikTok.

The following month, these six sentences took Twitter by storm: “You bolt awake in the mountains of Carthage. You are not online. It is 217 BC. You are the general Hannibal, and you have changed your mind. The future cannot come to pass. Rome must burn.” Seeing as Twitter is, by and large, a billion spiteful retards babbling into the void, this was an endlessly useful template—a pithy reminder that life is a finite resource, and no one in their right mind could possibly make the conscious choice to spend theirs as you are currently spending yours. Maybe, just maybe, if you logged the hell off you could do something worth remembering 2200 years from now.

The offline boyfriend trend and the General Hannibal meme are two sides of the same coin: feminine desire for and male admiration of The Offline Man, who has become a ubiquitous, almost mythic figure in our culture. Sean Thor Conroe distills the myth down to its essence in Fuccboi:


“Years later, I’ll meet a man who has no social media presence, has never experienced a like or a comment or a retweet in his life, and I’ll think, You goddamn beautiful unicorn, what’s that like, being entirely self-validating? What’s it like to wake up every day and not worry what anyone else thinks?”


The Offline Man is entirely self-validating. If he has a take, you’ll never hear it, because he doesn’t care if you approve. If you post a take, he’ll never find it, because he doesn’t think about you at all. He’s the strong silent type of our era—a masculine North Star for spiritually castrated would-be escapees from the longhouse. Except a few seconds of scrutiny is all it takes to show that the Offline Man is a mirage.

It’s no great mystery, really, what it’s like to wake up every day and not worry what anyone else thinks. Examples abound. Wind back the clock, say, 150 years, to eliminate the internet from the equation entirely. Pick a random saloon in a working-class neighborhood of any major American city, step inside, and punch the drunkest man you see. You’ll get beaten to a pulp by a gaggle of swarthy first-gens, no doubt, but that’s okay: odds are the man deserved it. He, like countless of his countrymen, had probably spent the last two days pouring his paycheck down his gullet while his wife and children were at home chewing shoe leather. There’s your beautiful unicorn, bleeding into his backwash, asking the barkeep for one last round, not the slightest sign on his face of concern for a single soul’s opinion of him.

Not caring what anyone thinks about you is only a virtue in a world where it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about you. That world is either devoid of good and evil, or populated exclusively by moral retards who are incapable of making accurate judgments about your conduct. We live in neither of those worlds. We must shoulder the burden of life in a moral universe populated by moral creatures who can, at least on occasion, help us recognize our vices and our virtues.

Obviously being desperate for mere attention is gay. But not all forms of attention are created equal, and what is esteem if not a form of attention? A man should want to earn the esteem of his peers, and of posterity. It’s not effete to care what impression your great-grandchildren might have of you—it’s noble.

Thucydides, in the opening chapter of his History of the Peloponnesian War, eloquently captures the distinction between desperation for attention and lust for fame: “I have written my work, not as an essay which is to win the applause of the moment, but as a possession for all time.” He was admittedly self-conscious about what he saw as an “absence of romance” in his History—of course he wanted it to be read with interest—but he was willing to sacrifice for his grander goal: that it be “judged useful by those inquirers who desire an exact knowledge of the past as an aid to the interpretation of the future.”

Nothing great is accidental. Nearly a hundred generations of students have profited from the study of an ancient text on an ancient war because one day a man had the audacity to care what every wise man for all eternity thought about what he was going to write. Nothing could possibly be farther from “entirely self-validating.” A great man is one who will go to great lengths for the right kind of attention—for the everlasting gratitude of posterity. Now ask yourself: how many “offline boyfriends” of girls who write for The Cut are concerned with earning the everlasting gratitude of posterity?

I suspect that such girls are attracted to offline men not because being offline is a reliable symbol of masculine virtue, but because they loathe their own online lives, which are spent drowning in malice and inanity. If she has no self-respect for who she is when she’s online, it makes sense for her to be attracted to a man who’s never online. But what she’s really attracted to is the self she wishes she was—not a masculine ideal of any substance.

It’s a mistake to unplug just because you think she’ll notice. Even if she doesn’t know it yet, what actually turns her off is the thought of your pale skin glowing blue as you scroll aimlessly. She is repulsed by the thought of her own brain fog clouding the mind of the potential father of her children. She cannot love a man whose entire world collapses in on itself for the first few minutes after he sends a tweet, like it does for her, until she decides if it’s doing well enough to leave up.

But these turn offs—the infinite passive scrolling, the brain fog, the visceral desperation to make lots of strangers tap the outline of a heart on their glass rectangle—none of them are inherent to life online. They’re gay, sure, because they mean you’re getting dommed by a bunch of corporate app developers and shameless keyboard warriors. But it is possible to resist being bent to their will. And once you cultivate the strength to resist, you can start using the internet to build.

A man who inspires thousands of kindred spirits to throw off their conceptual dildos and strive for physical strength, beauty, and vitality is no less worthy of esteem for having done so online. Fathers who draw from him the strength to keep the cork in the bottle, and who thus spend less time in a drunken oblivion and more in the backyard playing catch with their sons… their sons will be no less grateful knowing their fathers needed a wake-up call from an internet anon.

Being online has become a synonym for lifelessness itself, but aimless scrolling is a symptom of lifelessness, not its root cause. For those who can master the internet and use it to their advantage, turning away from it can only aid the enemies of civilization. And civilization, really, is what lies at the heart of the issue. A wise man from whose internet presence I have personally drawn strength once asked: “Why are you as a man not exuding a sense of civilization and order in a space around you that makes people feel safe and low anxiety even though they can’t really articulate why?”

“Entirely self-validating” men do not exude this sense of civilization and order. They become deadbeats and divorcees. Exuding a sense of civilization and order requires, not a lack of concern for what those around you think, but a burning desire to earn their esteem, as distinct from grasping for mere attention. And not just their esteem, but that of their children and grandchildren. Only a man whose aim is fixed on a target far above and beyond himself can be sufficiently cool and collected amid the chaos of day-to-day existence to ooze a sense of civilization and order. Only a man who sets out to make his life a possession for all time can resist pursuing the applause of the moment. An entirely self-validating man is a candle in the wind. Vibes are his only guide. He is a loyal husband and dutiful father for as long as it feels good, and a divorced manchild breakdancing in a bitcoin button-up after the going gets tough.

Offline or otherwise, he is no man at all.

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