If you’ve ever worked in a luxury goods store, chances are you’ll associate the word ‘timewaster’ with someone who pretends they’re going to make a significant purchase, just so they can be emotionally pampered by the staff.
The Internet, and in particular social media activity, has shown us that timewasting is a serial mentality. Timewasters tend to be repeat offenders who will employ the same tactics over and over again. In some cases, their need for a particular type of attention is truly pathological. But how does your personal experience of timewasters divide down between the genders? Do you find that most of the timewasters you’ve encountered have been male? If so, evidence suggests you’re not alone.
Web searches for “he” and ”she” versions of various timewasting accusations show a very substantial male majority. My own research into this showed anything between 100% and 500% more timewaster-related phrases directed towards men than directed towards women. And there was an additional point of note, in which the phrases directed towards women tended to be less categorical. For example, a male variant like “He’s a timewaster” might read:
“Keep away from him – he’s a timewaster.”
Whereas the female variant, “She’s a timewaster”, might read:
“I’m not sure she’s a timewaster, but…”
This dynamic suggests that the male majority may be even more dramatic than the basic numbers of search results indicate.
So, assuming that the search engines provide a reasonable measure of statistics, why are most timewasters male?
EGO AND OPPORTUNITY
The hardcore timewaster experiences a gross imbalance between egotistical need and egotistical means. Timewasters are people who primarily want attention. But in order to gain that attention, they need some form of power. They don’t have any power, so they seek to artificially create it.
This normally involves them lying about their means and intentions – misleading others into believing they have something to offer when they don’t. Or at least trying to. The success rate of most timewasters looks to be low, and very limited in duration. A timewaster’s demand for egotistical gratification is annoying, and there’s no mileage in being annoying.
So is it that men are simply more egotistical than women? Well, there’s pressure built into society for men to justify their worth financially, and through status-related attributes such as control and recognition. That pressure inflates egotistical need. Although steps have been made towards gender equality, and a situation in which both women and men are subject to the same expectations, that point has clearly not been reached. There’s still a widespread notion that manhood is defined by wealth and control, whereas womanhood is defined by sex appeal.
We can argue that these societal ‘rules’ are invalid, and idealistically they are. But they’re ‘rules’ the public constantly reinforce. Look at the uptake on dating sites and you’ll see that reinforcement writ large. Theme a dating site around sex, and the userbase is virtually all male. Theme it around status and money, and the userbase is overwhelmingly female. You can’t dispute the evidence of mass behaviour. And you can’t create total equality of expectation when the male and female genders have different biases of desire.
The two key biases of desire are really interesting, because in face to face situations, only one of them is open to distortion. Essentially, women cannot lie about their sex appeal. But men can lie about their status and means. Hence, men can, according to widespread perception and the biases of desire, falsely glorify their image and value much more easily than women can.
In the offline world, timewasting is easier for men, simply because their leading means of gaining attention is open to distortion. A woman’s sex appeal is what it is. A man’s fnancial status and power is potentially whatever he claims it is.
This doesn’t, however, explain why women are not often found using trickery for attention online. The Internet allows anyone to fake their levels of sex appeal. On the Web, people can pretend to have a completely different appearance. A woman who’s not considered a sex symbol could create a social media profile using images of someone else, with immense sex appeal. That would unquestionably gain her masses of attention.
And this is where it gets even more interesting. In fact, there are vast numbers of ‘fake’ social media profiles online, all trading on third-party images of sexually stunning females. But the great majority of the profile creators are not women. Once again, they’re men.
So it seems that this is not just a matter of opportunity. Lying and tricking for attention is a fundamentally male urge. Even where men and women have an equal opportunity to distort reality for emotional gratification, it’s men who overwhelmingly lead the charge.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Simply, whether the cause is genetic or down to societal influence, men are cited as more narcissistic, more entitled, more aggressive, less conscientious, less sensitive and less empathic than women. In other words, men are more likely to need attention, more likely to believe they deserve it, and less likely to be inhibited about using underhanded means to get it.
But rather than using the contents of the above paragraph to support the fact that men are much more prone to attention-driven timewasting than women, I’d be inclined to do the opposite. The statistical and anecdotal evidence of male dominance in the timewasting stakes, compellingly illustrates that all of the above is true.
Women are more likely to care about your time and consider it to have a value. They’re less likely to approach you if they think you don’t want to be approached. And they’re less likely to need a falsely-manufactured source of ego-massage in the first place. But this is not evidence for the huge male majority in timewaster behaviour. The huge male majority in timewaster behaviour is evidence for this.