A discussion about posers

While there are plenty of hobbies full of genuinely passionate people, there are always going to be a subset of posers in it for all the wrong reasons. Several discussions on the SDMB have suggested poserdom for a few specific hobbies. The phenomenon of the “fake geek girl” is the belief that some women get into geeky hobbies not for the hobby itself, but to get attention from guys. Accusing women of being “fake” like this wasn’t limited to geeky hobbies; they get side eyed if they come off as a huge sports fan or into other stereotypically male hobbies.

However, there are plenty of people into something for the wrong reasons. The thread about Meetup mentioned how guys would join hiking groups in order to pick up women. It was obvious that they weren’t there because they enjoyed the activity itself, they did it to get close to people they were interested in. Maybe some people find it endearing, but most would find it transparent and creepy. I think this happens for the following reasons:

-A lonely or boring person wants to make themselves seem more “interesting” to others. They understand being passionate in something (particularly social) is seen as a positive trait for both men and women; a person who is passionate is dedicated and hard working. They’ll always have something interesting to talk about. Whether it’s music, sports, charity, etc. In addition, many passions require positive traits (patience, empathy, discipline, social intelligence, organization, etc) that are a positive mark on the person.

-Hobbies and interests that are semi-obscure make for good conversation material, because it’s not so mundane and banal to be conversation filler, yet not so obscure to be impossible to relate to. These can make the person come off as interesting since other people are more likely to be curious and ask questions.

Problems with poserdom:

-The poser sees all this stuff in reverse, or just part of a bigger picture. It’s a cargo cult mentality. They want to be interesting, but do it in just a transparent and insincere way that it’s obvious to most. The guy in meetups joining hiking groups but spending all the time pestering women for their phone numbers, for example.

-They often try way too hard. Posers only care how others see them; they may not even care about the activity, but seem to pursue it in the place of having an actual personality. I see a lot of (younger) geeks that really flog the “lol random monkeycheese” angle, and they all rabidly claim that they are genuinely into whatever sillyness they are putting on display. If I see a guy in public wearing a stovepipe hat, or riding a unicycle, or saying internet memes out loud, it’s more likely he is deliberately doing it to come off as quirky and eccentric. Dating websites are notorious for bringing out “tryhards” since you are limited in your first impression. People often double down on the weirdness factor hoping their profile will stand out. Problem is that it’s more likely to backfire.

-Posers are often lazy in real life and want all the benefits of a popular hobby without any of the work. DeviantArt, Etsy, and blogs are bloated with people like this. Often to get good at something, it takes a lot of dedication and work. It’s not always fun and easy to get to the good parts. But posers don’t care about any of that because nobody is going to see the effort, only the result. So they think if they can emulate the “result” of hard work, they’ll get the same degree of credit.

-Posers can spoil many hobbies for other people and make it harder to convince people you are genuinely interested in something. Think of a really outgoing, talkative guy who wants to hike with other people. He joins a meetup for a group hike and most of the others are women. Because he’s very extroverted, he makes conversation with them. If their previous experience had involved getting pestered by men on hikes, then their reaction might be standoffish or defensive. It’s not his fault, but all the other creepos before him have made it harder for him to convince others he likes hiking for the sake of hiking.

I also want to address the fake geek girl thing:

Male geeks accusing women of being fake geeks is the height of hypocrisy and sexism. Many make these accusations because they only pretend to be into something to attract women, so their natural assumption is that women do the same thing. Also, it’s really difficult for some guys to wrap their heads around the idea that a woman can be just as passionate with a hobby as a man can.

Is this an under-thirty thing? If so, I can see it. Some people have to try on a lot of different hats before they find one that fits.

This is a problem for ordinary mortals too - because (for example) I quite fancy owning a full length leather coat (it would be genuinely useful - part of my daily commute is on foot, often in the pissing rain), but all the people who wear them are percieved as trying to be Neo or Van Helsing.

To a certain extent, I just decided to do what the hell I want and not care what people watching might think, but it’s still a nuisance. I recently grew a beard (because I wanted to) and shaved my head (because nature wants me bald anyway), and now I have to put up with people who think I did it just to look like Walter White, and keep telling me so.

Pursuing an activity on a trial basis is quite different from posing.

Take motorcycling, for example. Someone who is trying it out might buy a used bike of modest capability, get some cheap gear, and go for weekend rides on local roads. He might park it on Main Street during Bike Night so he can walk around checking out other bikes to see what’s out there. He may meet some people here and there as he pursues his chosen sport, may even find some good, lifelong friends.

A poser is something else entirely. A poser will buy a high-performance crotchrocket, park it on Main Street during bike night (or at a motorcycle rally), and walk around in racing leathers, hoping to be seen by everyone. He’s not particularly interested in riding; his bike racks up precious few miles, and his riding gear will still smell brand new after a couple of years.

You’ll see the same thing in any sport that includes highly visible equipment: bicycling, shooting, skiing, etc.

Maybe! I know it’s much more common for younger folks. A big part of it is confidence. If you are confident and happy in your life, you’re not going to get caught “trying too hard” and your confidence will be evident to the people around you. But if you’re insecure, it’s easy to get fixated on the end result (being interesting, being talented).

During college/post college I had this phase where I was obsessed with being “interesting”. I was actively dating online and really wanted a draw to make myself more interesting. I really wasnt doing much with my life or had any direction. I thought about a lot of things to get into, but realized I was pursuing it for the wrong reasons. So I focused on things I generally enjoyed and that paid off far better.

A beard is no substitute for a chin, and eccentricity is no substitute for a personality.

I don’t have a big problem with people who are looking for something to get passionate about even if opportunities to meet the opposit sex are involved. I do have a problem with those who are big readers and learn to talk the lingo and quote the big name experts yet have no practical experience themselves and are giving advice and acting as if they are someone who has mastered a craft. They are usually weeeded out pretty quickly but not always.

Confidence, yes, Incubus. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. A percentage of people don’t like to look like novices even though they are. It stings more for some than others to be a beginner.

I understand, Machine Elf, and I’ve seen those people also. They are somewhat rare in their fifties and sixties but they do exist at all ages. Maybe those are the materialistic folks like people who need a new car in order to prove their self-worth. I think it’s still a matter of not knowing one’s true self. Or not feeling valuable without your chosen accoutrements.

Maybe they are more aggravating because of their own self-delusion. It insults us in spite of ourselves.

As far as people joining groups they have no interest in to find company I don’t see anything terribly wrong with that. It’s a different issue, I think. It might be matter of loneliness or it could also be a matter of not being fully developed yet and not knowing what kind of people you want to be with.

I could imagine a younger person romanticizing a certain sport and thinking those would be a fun crowd for him to hang with and being totally wrong. Everybody sees it but him.

My go-to analogy for this is “shiny tools.” You know, the one guy in the neighborhood with a garage full of fancy tools that he never actually uses, so they’re all shiny. He wants to be seen (or think of himself) as handy, but he’s actually just lazy and has too much money.

I thought it was poseur.?!

ETA: I’m not really all that into etymology; I just pretend I am to get the chicks.

I don’t find it creepy if someone wants to try something just for the overall experience and not because they have passion for it. I went to a MeetUp a few months ago just so I could have something to talk about on Monday when asked about my weekend plans. (Which worked because I ended up with a good story to tell afterwards) I went to another Meetup (a vegetarian outing…even though I’m not a vegetarian) to see if I could find a cool person or persons to hang out with. It didn’t work out, but it was better than doing nothing.

Everyone starts off as a “poser” because it’s not like anyone is born being any particular way. We all have to learn the culture, the rules, etc. We all have different motivations for wanting to belong.

The whole concept of a “poser” is pretty juvenile and harkens back to the days of high school cliques. I know some fully grown adults do the “scene” thing, but it seems to me that once you get confident enough in your identity, you should no longer feel the need to man the gates. And I’m betting the fear of “poseurdom” intimidates a lot of newbies. When I took up yoga a few years back, I remember feeling self-conscious because I didn’t look the “part” (didn’t own yoga pants, didn’t know any of the poses, didn’t look like anyone else in the studio). I still don’t look the part, but now I’m confident enough in myself that it doesn’t matter to me. Nor does it matter to me if someone wants to call themselves a yogi and they’ve only been doing yoga for a few days. It’s just a hobby. It’s not “me”.

Am I the only one that thought that this might be a thread about the now defunct bar Poseurs in DC? I loved that place.

You’re not describing a poser; you’re describing a neophyte, which is quite a different thing. A simple neophyte does not begin by buying the latest and greatest gear and engaging in behaviors that imply extensive experience/expertise.

I’m not talking about people genuinely curious about things. I’m taking about people that are only into it for the social benefit, real or perceived.

Posers like this put great emphasis in titles. They’re not somebody who plays, they’re a musician, for example.

I was referring to the OP’s definition of “poser”. My definition of “poser” is much more similar to yours.

I really don’t see why it would be creepy if someone said, “Hiking is fine, but I’m really in this MeetUp group because I like the people and I’m looking to find someone who is into the outdoors just as much as I am.”

Yeah, beng there to hook-up with pretty women is creepy. But being there for the social aspect more than the activity itself makes perfect sense to me.

And I’m curious how would you know that someone is there for the “wrong” reasons. This has never been anything I’ve encountered in conversation before. But then again, if someone says they are a musician (or a magician, or a hiker, or anything else), I usually take their word for it and don’t give it another thought. I’m guessing if a hobbyist said something that revealed they were a novice rather than an expert, I would rationalize it by assuming perhaps my understanding of their hobby wasn’t complete. For instance, if I met someone who claimed to be into ceramics, I might ask them about hand-building techniques. If they don’t know any, it could mean they are a poser. Or it could mean that they spend all their time throwing on the wheel. Thus rendering my little litmus test pointless.

So if it is a man doing it he is a creep, or at least under serious suspicion of being a creep, and its cool for a woman (such as you) to suggest that he is being a creep, but if it is a woman doing it then it is definitely totally OK, she must never be suspected of having ulterior, sexual, motives, and it is really hypocritical and sexist for a man to suggest that she might have. Right, got it!

I had a certain amount of sympathy, though also strong reservations, about your first post, but you lost all my respect with your second. Sexist hypocrisy indeed!


To respond to your first post, ignoring the taint of the second, yes I do not doubt that men sometimes take up hobbies and activities mainly because they think it will help them meet women, and get a girlfriend, rather than from some pure interest in the activity itself. I do not think that makes them bad people, however. (Likewise, if there are women pretending to be “geeks” into science fiction, or whatever, mainly because they think it will help them to meet guys and get a boyfriend, that does not make them bad people either.)

I also note that it is a standard piece of advice given to lonely, sexually frustrated young men (mostly given by female “agony aunt types”, professional or amateur, rather than by other men), is to take up some hobby that involves social activities, and hope to meet a nice girl with a common interest that way. I doubt that this is actually good advice, myself, but it seems to be given because everything else a single man could do to find himself a woman is stigmatized as creepy these days. “Hit on” women directly and (unless you have hit the jackpot of a woman who actually both finds you attractive and happens to be ready to start a relationship at this very moment - things a guy can’t possibly know until he asks) you are a creep. Make friends with a woman in the hope that the friendship will develop into something sexual, and you are the “nice guy” variety of creep (again, unless she actually happens to want you, which, no doubt, occasionally happens), who I have often seen excoriated as the lowest of the low, on these boards and elsewhere.

The “take up a hobby/join a club” advice seems to be offered as at least something that a lonely guy might do towards trying to find himself a girlfriend that will not make him into a creep (although, it is very arguably just an even slower version of the “nice guy” strategy, just one that calls for the man to repress any expression of his sexual feelings for even longer.) You seem to make this option into yet another variety of creepdom.

I am so glad I am way too old to be playing this game any more. It seems to me that a, lonely, single, heterosexual young man today has virtually no options, no actions that he can take to try to end his loneliness and misery and improve his situation, find a little love in his life, that will not almost inevitably get him stigmatized as a creep, and women like the OP seem determined to shut down even the narrowest and longest and least promising of escape tunnels, like “getting a hobby”. I suppose the thicker skinned guys handle it by just not caring if women think they are creeps, doing the “creepy” stuff anyway until they get lucky, ignoring whatever unreceptive women may think or say about them as bitchy bullshit. (The “right” advice for the lonely young man, I very much fear, is not “get a hobby”, but “hit on as many women as possible, suck up all the rejection, don’t worry about whether anyone thinks you are being creepy, and hope to god you get lucky before your soul and your ability to empathize with a woman shrivel up entirely”.) Any lonely, single guy who is a bit more sensitive though, who actually wants to respect women and their feelings, and not be thought a creep, seems to be being put in double, triple, quadruple binds, where there is nothing he can do to even try to ameliorate his situation that will not make him even more contemptible than he already is. At least, that is what many women out here on the interwebs (and male enablers of them) seem to want such guys to believe.

Njtt, people who are not complete weirdos, with at least a shred of social intelligence, will not be fretting about your dilemma.

The horror! Lonely and boring people should just stay lonely and boring forever, like the losers that they are.

I’ve played guitar in rock bands for the last 25 years and moved in the social circles that come with that. I know from posers. Posers and poseurs. :stuck_out_tongue:

Not as bad as being a writer or poet, since there is at least some vague standard of competence by which a guitarist can be safely judged to have no idea what the fuck he is doing, but still. :smiley: