It has been a few weeks since Andrew Tate was banned from several major social media platforms.
The backlash to the content that he was creating and the messages that he was delivering were loud. This forced many social media companies to take note and remove him from their platforms.
We are no longer seeing him everywhere. And his Hustler’s University—a pyramid scheme that got users to recruit new members—is no longer in operation.
But while this particular conduit of misogynist messaging has disappeared from our screens, we should be careful to understand why he was able to gain so much notoriety. He has since stated that he was playing a character but, for those that engaged with his content, this was often not obvious.
We need to ask ourselves, what does this person’s popularity say about men’s mental health and how do these messages damage it even further?
Why did he gain such a following?
Influencers like Andrew Tate promoting a certain type of ‘masculinity’ are not an anomaly on social media platforms. Dan Bilzerian, Jordan Peterson and Roosh Valizadeh have been occupying space online to promote their particular brand of masculinity and politics. The popularity they are able to garner indicates the existence of a large audience of isolated men. And these men are finding a sense of community by following these people on social media.
According to Peterson, masculinity is in crisis. And what these figures create is an us versus them mentality when it comes to genders. This gives the impression that this crisis is created because other people in society have gained power at their expense.
Their ability to connect with millions of young men is not an indication that masculinity is in crisis, though. It is an indication that men are in crisis.
What is being said?
The irony of this type of messaging is that while men who are lonely are looking to these famous figures to give them a sense of community, the rhetoric is, in fact, hyper-individualistic. If we take Andrew Tate, for example, he has attacked those with mental health issues. He proclaims that they are ‘weak’ and ‘lazy’ and the fault of the individual. Additionally, he constantly repeats that you will not be happy unless you can amass the same kind of wealth and power that he has. And that in order to get this power, you need to dominate women and other men in society.
While these men feel as if they have found a community, in fact, they have found the opposite. They are pitted against each other as they try to scramble to the top of a pyramid.
He has taken their isolation and weaponized it. But at the same time, he has isolated them even further from the communities that could offer support and connection.
These negative responses to feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem are able to gain traction on social media. A lot more traction than healthy responses as social media feeds on absolutes. It is far easier to get engagement by saying something extreme that will have both negative and positive engagement. So people with these kinds of messages manage to blow up and overcrowd the space. They then drown out other voices that are trying to offer real sustainable and healthy solutions to these problems.
What effect does it have?
Regardless of Andrew Tate and others’ intentions when creating this content, there is a real effect on people. It reduces free thinking and the opportunity for self-discovery. And, if these young men are emotionally immature and unable to process emotions, this can lead to abusive and violent behaviours.
Preaching that it is ‘feminine’ to show emotions and that to be feminine is to be lower on the totem pole of societal power prevents men from reaching out for help. Within the context of male suicide statistics, this is particularly concerning. Men are being encouraged to dismiss their mental health conditions as weaknesses. They are told that if they were in better shape, were sleeping with women or had more money, these mental health problems would not exist. Those that are not able to do this are belittled and insulted. This potentially worsens their mental health problems and pushes them further into isolation.
How can you counteract this thinking?
If you have noticed that people in your life are engaging with this particular type of misogynist content, don’t ignore the subject. You need to call it out for what it is: misogyny. Open up the conversation in a way that is non-judgmental and explain why the content is problematic. Ask questions and try to understand why they are drawn to this content and take the time to slowly educate on the harms that this content can cause.
And, if you have been struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation or you are struggling with your mental health, therapy can help.
As a man, your mental health is so important and it is vital that we focus on healthy ways that you can address it. The more you speak out about it the better. This can also help counter the narrative that therapy is taboo.
While men’s place in society may have changed and men are no longer expected to be the ‘man of the household’, there are ways that you can find meaning in your life in healthy ways.
Regular therapy sessions can be helpful and can lead to a healthier, happier life overall. Talking to a therapist can be a good start to helping you find your voice and start opening up.