Today a thread titled "Male identity and lifting - Don’t fall for the rat race" shot to the top of the subreddit. The central message of it was a tirade against "unrealistic beauty standards", encouragement to do "what makes you happy" and to avoid acting based on "feelings of inadequacy" or a desire to compete.
In short, with only a few changes, it would have fit perfectly well on page 12 of Cosmo, Jezebel or some other bullshit female magazine. Right next to articles about how curvy is beautiful, video games push "unrealistic beauty standards" and you should "do what makes you happy" such as riding the CC past your eggs' expiration date (just freeze them!)
That post did not shoot up to the top of TRP because it was packed with wisdom and sound advice. The only kernel of truth it contained is that people in bodybuilding photoshoots are dehydrated, probably on PDEs and certainly photoshopped - something that is so painfully obvious and common knowledge I doubt anyone needed telling.
No, it shot up to the top of TRP because it provided hundreds of people with exactly what they wanted to hear: justification for not facing uncomfortable realities and not doing painful hard work, all the while feeling smugly superior to the dumb deceived meatheads killing themselves in the gym, the poor bastards. In short, because it was a great piece of male hamstering.
Fuck your male hamstering
Male hamstering is self-deception designed to please and protect the ego. Like all deceptions, destroying it starts with pointing out where it's pitifully false, so I'll do just that.
"Don't become obsessed with the gym!"
Do you seriously think that any significant number of men have a problem because they feel inadequate compared to him? what bullshit.
The vast majority of men have a problem because they are fatasses. Look at the data: you will scarcely find a developed country where overweight people don't make up around 3/4ths of the population. And don't think that the remaining 1/4th is made up of fit people either: the vast majority of those not overweight aren't in any kind of enviable shape.
So where does that leave us? certainly not with a population of obsessed gym bros who need to be told to calm down a little. All the opposite: it leaves us with a population of people that need to be shamed into getting off their fat lazy asses and hitting the gym. The boogeyman of thinking you aren't big enough is something that could potentially apply only to the tiny slice of the population that is any big to begin with.
By the way: I don't know what gym the author of that post frequented, but in mine none of the big guys have ever expressed any serious feeling of inadequacy because they aren't freak beasts with delts larger than their heads. When you've put in all the hard work it takes to get to a reasonable level of 'big', you realize how much more effort it would take to reach competitive levels, and most people are happy with already being in the top 5% of males by physique.
"Do what makes you happy!"
The above is the biggest piece of shit advice that has wormed its way into this subreddit, literal feel-good bullshit about which we used to have stickies. "What makes you happy" is a shit target to shoot for. Most people are "happy" being barely cognizant vegetables attached to their entertainment, getting duty sex twice a month from their nagging fat LTRs, and going through life without thinking or worrying too much about anything. It's a safe evolutionary strategy that our brains are programmed to follow when the lack of external stresses doesn't require extra work. If you're fed, rested and have managed to squirt out a kid or two, as far as your genes are concerned you've done your job.
Therefore, whenever someone advises a population of recovering betas to "just do what makes you happy", what they're actually doing is justifying and enabling their beta mentality, reframing their unsatisfying and mediocre situation as something to be "happy" about because "you wouldn't want to mindlessly follow along with the herd, would you?"
Of course here the "herd" is painted as the hypothetical hordes of men who are filling the gyms with huffs and puffs and sweat and anabolic steroids, chasing a superhuman physique they'll never achieve. In short, it's another rhetorical device with no basis in reality. People who even hit the gym are a small minority of the population, of which those doing serious bodybuilding are another small minority. The actual herd is the billions of betas living their lives in a frightened stupor, going along with whatever society tells them and eventually getting something that's "good enough", which might just be a shit deal but they're way too passive and emasculated to do anything about it.
Here we see again the male hamster at work: by creating an entirely fictional danger ("you're just following a plan for happiness dictated by someone else!"), it actually just encourages betas to not change anything about their lives which, ironically, is precisely a plan for "happiness" dictated by someone else.
"Don't be too competitive!"
The cherry on top of this shit cake are the various warnings about being too competitive, avoiding the "rat race" and so on.
Pop-TRP has become really enamored with this line of thinking, because it removes external poinst of reference and thus enables people to ignore their lack of progress, since they themselves are the measure of such progress. "Don't do it to be better than some other guy" quickly becomes "ignore the fact that you're in a pitiful situation, you wouldn't want to be like those fools who bust their asses just to be better than others, would you?"
Once again we see the same rhetoric as before at work: a hypothetical danger, "being too competitive", is waved in front of the faux-scared horde of betas, providing them with an immediate rationalization for why they're justified in not bettering themselves in any real way. Just as before, the rhetoric has no point of contact with reality: we do not live in a society of excessively competitive men, we live in a society of men who are by and large extremely afraid of competition, a society that from the cradle makes out competition (and its attendant sins of winning and losing) to be a fearsome, primitive and undesirable activity. There are very few people who are too competitive and need to calm down; for the vast majority of men, the problem is precisely that they're too scared of competition and, if anything, they should be encouraged to seek it out.
Competition is at the very core of masculinity. I mean that literally: nearly all of our secondary sexual characteristics exist to aid us in sexual competition against other males. Hell, our dicks are designed to scoop out the semen of our sexual rivals from the adventurous vaginas of the tribe's women. Wanting to be superior to other men is an instinct that should be cultivated and encouraged, precisely because it's so suppressed nowadays. The issue of "overshooting" and ending up being too competitive is largely hypothetical: when you've started competing in any arena and have seen what it takes, I bet you you'll see how much work it would take to get to the next level, and that you'll be perfectly capable of rationally assessing if it's worth it to you.
A word on lip service
I know what a portion of readers will say: "but the post said that being muscular will always be attractive! you're missing the point!"
No, I'm not. Because here we're not dealing with a courtroom argument or a philosophical debate, we're dealing with persuasion: writing posts that are read by thousands of men and have an effect on how they think and behave. Persuasion cares very little for tiny contrasting details that should allegedly reframe the entire argument: the core message is what will be remembered and have an effect. Here, the core message was "work less, be happy with what you are, avoid pain".
In fact, paying lip service to the truth is a key component of deception. It serves to disarm rational opposition by seemingly satisfying it: "of course being muscular is desirable, and now that I've said it you can refer to the nine paragraphs above this one that provide you with all the reasons you need to not get muscular". It doesn't matter what the content of that sentence logically is: the "being muscular is desirable" lip service has a tiny emotional and rhetorical value compared to the mountain of male hamstering before it.
So no, the fact that the post (and others like it) paid lip service to core TRP concepts doesn't improve the situation any. People pay lip service to what they know is the truth all the time, and then come up with rationalization for why they can avoid following said truth. It's how self-deception normally works: lip service doesn't stop it, it's a part of it.
Lift: go to the gym and lift. When you have a top 5% physique you may start worrying about setting realistic expectations, but by that point I bet you the iron will have taught you just how hard it is to make gains, and you'll likely not have any real problem accepting that you'll never make a bodybuilding magazine cover, nor will that bum you out. It's only people who don't even lift that "fear" for gym bros: the oldest excuse in the book for not lifting is precisely "I don't want to become an obsessed meathead".