Learning from Kif

Like I mentioned yesterday, my Thanksgiving was full of great discussion and also reinforced the need for references and examples in such discussions.  The subject of signalling and deceptive marketing in social interactions came up, specifically in the form of the various myths present in the dating market which are meant to benefit the parties propagating them.

Allow me to present the subject of today’s discussion:

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This is Kif Kroker, a character from Futurama.  In his capacity as assistant to the brash and clueless Captain Zapp Branigan, he constantly serves as the voice of reason.  In his relationship with Amy Wong, he is loving, considerate, faithful and kind.  He is everything “conventional wisdom” says that a man should be and everything women often say they want in a man.

He is also completely uninteresting.

In every interaction with Zapp, his advice is ignored.  In every interaction with Amy, he trips over himself trying to please her.  (My favorite example is his inability to choose between tap water or bottled water at a restaurant.)  He is so passive and ineffective that his complete disappearance would hardly have an impact on any of the storylines he has ever been part of.  Kif has as much personality as a pair of pants.  The more I discussed this example this weekend, the more I realized even I am less than neutral to him; he almost seems slightly worthy of contempt.

The myth that Kif is “the perfect guy,” is a self-serving one in that a real-life Kif wouldn’t be dating Amy.  His relationship with her would be of the same nature as his relationship with Zapp; ineffectual adviser before disasters and supportive rescuer after things fall apart.  He would be taken advantage of constantly.  And while those taking advantage of him are glad to have him around, he is never going to improve his lot in life.  (Nor will he make a meaningful impact on anyone else’s.)

Any guy who finds himself puzzling over his lack of romantic success while recounting any of the above qualities should ask themselves if they are more exciting than Kif.  If not, it’s time to correct that.  Doubling down on those qualities will take you no where.  Create some excitement.  Don’t talk just to talk; no one’s interest is inspired by, “so, what’s going on today?”  or “how was your weekend?”  Offer up something interesting from a recent experience to spark discussion.  If you don’t have enough material to do that regularly, refer back to “create some excitement” and then try again.

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