The pickup artist scene is a haven for manipulative assholes — and manipulative asshole wannabes — so it was hardly a surprise to see a post on Roosh V’s Return of Kings blog last week defending some of the internet’s most ubiquitous manipulative assholes: trolls.
Embracing rather than challenging a recent study that found internet trolling “correlated positively with sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism,” RoK’s runsonmagic suggested that such “dark triad” traits can serve leaders well and that trolling, handled expertly, can be a form of “provocative art.”
“Trolling can actually contribute to our culture by revealing our societal triggers and emotional weaknesses,” he wrote.
Emotionally secure people are not harmed by others perspectives, genuine or trolling. … If you feel like you are being trolled or become angry at something you read online, see if there is a way you can learn from the experience and be grateful for it.
Well, Roosh’s fans have just undergone quite a learning experience, but they’re not feeling very grateful.
Yesterday, as many of you already know, one of Roosh’s trusted lieutenants, a fellow going by the name of Tuthmosis, posted a message on Roosh’s forum saying that their beloved leader had been arrested by Polish authorities after a violent confrontation with a former pickup buddy in Wroclaw, Poland who was now said to be spreading lies about Roosh spreading STDs.
The story itself was plausible enough, and I did a quick post on it, though given the utter unreliability of the source I prefaced it with a disclaimer noting that it should be treated with skepticism, as it could well be some sort of weird publicity stunt.
There were some skeptics among Roosh’s fans as well, but many took the story quite seriously, and tried to figure out ways they could help out their hairy guru, who they thought was being held incommunicado without bail in a jail cell in Wroclaw. CaptainGH sent his prayers:
I hope all the best for Roosh, a man that has helped a lot of us in becoming better men!! I said a prayer for him. Keep us informed as best as you can Tuth.
Sometime RoK contributor Fisto, meanwhile, suggested what he really needed was lawyers and money:
Tuthmosis, set up a paypal account. We are going to donate to a legal defense fund right now!
He needs a lawyer that can go and deliver messages to him. Chances are he has no communication with anyone outside the jail.
He needs to know we’ve got his back.
I don’t give a damn who the other party is or whether he was “wrong”.
I’ve spent time in holding cells/jail in foreign countries (as well as domestically) and it can be stressful. Your mind is racing a 1000 miles a minute and it can get dark. …
We need to get that guy that’s doing work for him some money to hire an attorney YESTERDAY.
As Roosh’s worried fans tried to transform their concern into action, Tuthmosis’ own postings became stranger and stranger, as he asserted control of Roosh’s forum and unveiled a bunch of odd new rules and “fee structures” for the forums. Eventually his postings became so implausible that it became clear the whole thing was a hoax. I updated my own post accordingly.
Roosh himself fessed up shortly thereafter. While he boasted, not exactly accurately, that “we managed to troll the tub of estrogen Manboobz and his readers,” it was clear that the only people really taken in by his hoax were some of his own readers. And so his “confession” was a weird mixture of self-congratulation and mea culpa.
Evidently the entire thing was inspired by a photo he had taken of himself sitting in a former Stasi jail cell at a museum devoted to the history of the former East Germany — the photo that Tuthmosis claimed was a picture of him in a Polish jail cell.
The picture used is from the German DDR museum. Two weeks ago I put it on my personal FB page and had worried friends contacting me asking if I was okay. Realizing the power of the photo, I came up with the idea to have a hoax with two stages: (1) Me in jail, and (2) Tuth going “mad” with power.
He then gave the first indication that he realized that maybe he shouldn’t have played on the emotions of his followers:
I expect many of you to be annoyed, and I hope Tuth and I didn’t betray your trust with the prank,
Alas, that bit of contrition only lasted for half a sentence, as he continued on:
but the security and viability of the forum was never compromised and the picture was just too good not to use. Credit goes to Tuth for his “new rules” … which—if you were in on the joke—was quite amusing. I also did not expect the story to be as believed as it was, since there are many flaws in the picture that suggest it’s not a real jail cell, but on the other hand, the prospect of me going to jail is not unexpected. If you are pissed off, I recommend you read Tuth’s bulletins to see the humor in the prank (the “bill me later” option was my favorite).
He ventured again in the direction of an apology, but then turned it around into a weird sort of preemptive self-pity in the not-entirely remote case the whole thing ends up biting him in the ass in the future:
I do sincerely appreciate the thoughts of concern of my Polish imprisonment. Now of course I really will be jailed and no one will believe it because of this false jailing accusation.
But not all of Roosh’s fans were impressed with his Dark Triad leadership.
In a topic devoted to Roosh’s confession on his forum, a disgusted Quintus Curtius wrote,
You don’t joke about death, imprisonment, or pregnancy. Especially to your friends.
Many of the comments were a weird mixture of indignation and irony, as dudes without much in the way of morals attempted to express their moral outrage over Roosh’s betrayal of trust. Dog24 put it this way:
Strong hypocrisy coming from two guys who have written many articles criticizing false rape accusations, false domestic violence charges and such.
What was the point of all this attention whoring?
Guys offered connections, money and elmech even said he could fly there if needed. I think all those guys deserve an apology.
As a community who values morals so much one would think some of its leaders wouldn’t be joking around with this kind of stuff.
Morals? I guess spending your entire life trying to figure out how to manipulate drunk women into bed is a-ok but manipulating the emotions of other dudes is just not done, bro!
A number of Roosh’s longtime supporters, meanwhile, announced they were taking their balls and going home. thedude3737, who has made nearly 3500 comments on Roosh’s forum, wrote:
I’m gonna be taking a break from RVF for a while. We’ll see. …
This was a major misstep. You’ve got guys in real life ready to take action and contribute real money to help a serious situation. I don’t know of another online forum with that level of camaraderie. I’d like to think of this forum as a group of guys that are above such antics and internet drama. …
I take this forum seriously, and I’m not the only one. In return, I would expect to be taken seriously.
I love you guys and would never hate on you.
I’m signing off, though.
I was about to start calling around people IN REAL LIFE to find a Polish speaking lawyer and was going to lay down the cash needed to get the ball rolling, if needed.
I dunno…In my world this just isn’t cool or funny or something you make light of. It’s serious business that means I drop everything to get shit handled.
But it was our old friend Fisto who really brought the drama. Because, apparently, the hoax had knocked them all down (yes, down) to the level of “feminist bitches,” and that is Just. Not. Acceptable. I’ll let him explain, because I really can’t:
One of the reasons we come here, is that we hold ourselves to a higher standard.
We consider ourselves masculine, above feminine bullshit, and in that vein we are pursuing self improvement in virtually every area of our lives. …
Tuthmosis tapped into the virtues we have as men, the things that separate us from dumb bitches, and exploited it. …
Guys like myself, TheDude3737, MikeCF, A. Bosche, MaleDefined, and many others understand what coming to your brother’s aid when he needs you means and that is why this particular prank is so…..fucking fucked.
Our virtues were used against us and in a way that you would expect from our enemy.
I felt as though we were all no better than a bunch of goddamn feminist bitches that gossip about each other and pray for each other’s downfall.
I’m sure that characterizes and explains the departure of some members, after all, we are supposed to be better than that.
I’m sure of it because this haven of no bullshit was suddenly filled with it.
We all learned our lessons yesterday, unfortunately, this time around we are weaker for it.
I can only hope so.