Sunday, July 19, 2020

An Analysis of 1stPersonApproacher: The Internet’s Favorite Creep

Meet First Person Approacher
Believe it or not, there’s a person on the internet who uses it to engage in ethically questionable behavior. His name is 1stPersonApproacher. His platform is YouTube. He’s informed by pickup artists. His goal is women. He arms himself with only a bike, a helmet, a GoPro, and his heart on his sleeve. He appears to be a middle-aged man in a small, somewhat quaint town located within the United Kingdom.

It’s all in the name: he makes videos of himself in first person and he approaches women. His approaches are both uncomfortable and hysterical. Uncomfortable in that social awkwardness, forced conversation, and silence usually is. And as Michael Cera’s career would inform this can be funny. And funnier still, because a pre-planned, pickup artist template of, “I know this is spontaneous...” to open up dozens of contrived conversations with strangers is viscerally ironic. His woeful repeated attempts are meditations on failure. He is often featured and the focal point of Reddit’s Cringe forum.

The man is at least somewhat self-aware. He knows he may come off as a creep and he plays into it. He knows he’s not good. But he’s trying. They say to try. And try he does. And fail he does. Perhaps he has a troubled past. Perhaps he’s on the spectrum. But I’m not sure he’s actually doomed or rather a victim of self-perpetuating doom, who, having convinced himself he can’t win, creates these performative interactions instead of trying to create real connections with people. It’s almost as if he’s outside himself. The irony of 1stPerson is that he interacts and sometimes refers to himself in the third person.

Then there’s the question of ethics. Many people on comment threads seem unnerved by some of his behavior, including myself. They write about him like he’s Joker evolving into power. And there are  undoubtedly red flags. But a friend brought up good points:

He’s trying to pick up like you would in a pub
Unlike a pub, both people are 100% sober
The entire interaction is basically on bodycam
He does not persist when rejected
He does not touch
He’s not salacious
He does not catcall or harass
He does this in very public places

The worst he does, aside from being pathologically awkward, is post the videos of his interactions online. It is legal to film in public. Posting the images of strangers is morally questionable if not legally. Unfortunately, when captioning the videos he also uses a lot of the lingo and the terminology gleaned from the pickup artist community. For example in Robert Greene’s book Seduction he often refers to his romantic conquests as prey. He also runs with the negative descriptions of him with what appears to be a morbid sense of humor.

It seems his real sin is he is an anxious, socially inept, neurotic mess who decided, however disastrously, to throw caution to the wind and catalog and scientifically analyze his social fortunes and failures. The thing about the Cringe subreddit and seeing someone at their worst, through pain, rejection, and failure, is if nothing else, it does tend to humanize them. Sure, 1stPersonApproacher is robotic and freezes up during social interaction, but similar are many of the bog standard, NPC-like reactions he receives. But people aren’t unique, they’re mostly predictable in their behaviors and desires. And in that space of uncomfortable interaction they are made real, real human, and these social car crashes are made real compelling to watch.

Generally I’m of the position we should give people the most generous and charitable interpretation of their actions when insufficient evidence to the contrary is available. And with that said, I am not with a chorus of content-hungry persons who want cringe and carnage, who may want this human being to have a psychotic break. Rather, I want to see him win. Like someone beginning a new hobby they’re terrible at. If it’s archery, get a bullseye. If it’s pottery, make a nice vase. If it’s women, I want to see him finally talk to one who understands his idiosyncrasies and helps and turn them into strengths, and they grow together in a way that’s not superficial, like most his interactions are, or like his intentions may be. Or if he’s incapable, I hope he comes to that understanding and moves on.


  1. I am a friend of the one known as "1st Person Approacher". He had a lot more of his story to tell. Police are trying to shut his platform down, even though he has not done anything wrong.
    There is a fledgling new channel up, but it is unlikely he will reach the giddy heights of 1k subs again, especially with police trying to place restrictions on his behaviour and his making content public.

    1. Interesting input. I'd like to hear from him.

    2. whats the new channel name?,

    3. No idea. Hope he's okay and not deranged.