Heterosexuality conditions a lot of people to act against their own best interests, specifically straight women. And to my cohort, I have a plea: Before you comment that a guy is hot on the internet, I beg you to consider whether he is actually hot, or if he is just straight and something else.
I call it Straight+, a theory that explains the depths of the Adam Driver fandom as much as that of Steve from Blue’s Clues. Straight+ is enough to round up your average dude to a fantasy boyfriend, and the reason why, for straight guys, mere competency is stirring enough to dickmatize the willing, whether internet famous or not. It’s a situation that has overwhelmingly inflated the follower count of nerds, real estate guys, guys who know how to make coffee, guys who collect cast-iron cookware, male chiropractors, and beyond.
On the internet where so many genuinely hot people abound, there is no need to lie and upgrade every regular guy with a talent to hot. That is what real life is for, but only when you really love someone. Everything else is just, I hate to say it, parasocial, but also bad for your standards.
Other traits that can contribute to Straight+ are pet ownership, wealth, and height. Any one of those is enough, but they are often combined in those who pursue social media attention. When combined with an average-looking man, these traits lead straight women to lose their minds, crying “hotness” where none exists.
Of course, this phenomenon is only a symptom of the mediocre man problem that pervades all aspects of life. Straight men get all the slack and trust in the world, and then get promoted with a raise on the basis of it. Meanwhile they are scamming everyone by wielding their undue power. Every day I see beautiful women having their lives ruined by broke, ethically non-monogamous whores who are uglier than them. Why, in the imaginary world of TikTok, which is lousy with gym rats, sex workers, and shirtless guys who do pottery, do people want to spit in the mouth of some condescending software dude with a full head of hair? The bar is so low.
A wise Tumblr user once said “most men are just some guy.” A sentiment that never fails to bring me peace, because it is true. I believe it is good and healthy to let real hotness suck you in, but don’t let patriarchy fool you into simping for someone unremarkable just because they have a lot of implicit power in society and probably get paid more than you.
Tammie Teclemariam is the diner-at-large at New York Magazine.