It was a normal Sunday evening trawling the socials in front of the fire. Time not well spent, but Dostoevsky was denser and more meaningful than the fluff available on X (formerly Twitter). In the old days, we watched the Sunday movie on the TV, now we watch the world burn in what my wife would call the dystopian political imaginary. Or something like that.
It popped up on my feed just as my daughter fired up her electric piano. A fancy Roland bought the previous Christmas. Someone had commented that Jack Dorsey, founder of Twitter and Square, billionaire, was doing something weird and shared a video of a ripped man with a long greying beard wearing small black underpants grinning in front of a fire. He looked directly at the camera and said, Ball Slapping, then proceeded to slap the underside of his balls in a horrifyingly rhythmic motion. The sound of hand on tender flesh had made it to the Roland via an errant Bluetooth connection interrupting my daughter’s practice with the sounds of deep breathing and flesh slapping. They were alarmed and distressed.
When I explained that it was a simple matter of a billionaire slapping his balls and showed them the video, they were even more concerned. Do it, my wife commanded. I want to know if it makes that noise.
I didn’t do it.
The not-so-gentle art of ball slapping has its roots in self-flagellation, the catholic practice of inflicting pain using whips and torture instruments to mortify the flesh with a Californian/ Instagram bent. Ball slapping is the brutally masculine equivalent of Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina steaming.
Disappointingly, it’s probably not Dorsey in the video, although it could be. Dorsey has form. After exiting Twitter he has gone the full Howard Hughes eccentric billionaire and his Twitter feed is full of posts from anti-vaxer Robert F Kennedy and right-wing journoconspiracist Glenn Greenwald. His bio links to a page on primal.net, the new social network “designed for complete freedom of expression without the risk of de-platforming”.
In contemporary culture there is a direct line between Health and Wellness, clean living, a paleo diet, ice baths, water fasting, saunas, hating the poor, despising the unemployed, and slapping your balls. The innocent act of caring about your health is often a gateway drug for a crypto-fascist life of pain. It’s a new type of toxic masculinity that Dorsey and his acolytes promote in their posts and ‘inspiring content’.
Australia, the home of Byron Bay and its famous resident, Thor is not immune from the clean living fascism.
Property Developer, Tim Gurner founded a new health retreat, Saint Haven, “focused on social connection, wellness, and anti-aging to help members live their ultimate life”.
It sounds bewilderingly intoxicating and horrifying. Join the übermensch. Live forever.
Gurner recently announced at a conference that unemployment should be 40% to 50% higher to create more productive workers.
“We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around,” he said.
“There’s been a systematic change where employees feel the employer is extremely lucky to have them as opposed to the other way around. So it’s a dynamic that has to change. We’ve got to kill that attitude and that has to come through hurting the economy.”
In the new economy, the rich can live clean and healthy while the poor workers eat fried chicken in dystopian shopping centres.
Dorsey’s asceticism is a new type of toxic masculinity practised by the leading lights of the Internet – Rogan, Huberman, Musk.
At its core is the idea is that by inflicting pain on yourself and denying bodily urges like hunger and thirst a man is focused and strong. By controlling his urges he will be able to control others and control the world around him. His power comes from the self-control he gains from saunas, ice baths, and fasting.
People smuggler and porn peddler, Andrew Tate is a wonderful example of the new toxic masculinity. Tate delivers bland but inspiring messages such as
“No days off. No sick pay.
Being a badman is a full time job.”
Tate recently announced that he hates eating. “I hate eating. I hate feeling full.”
I know I have been trolled, but apparently, for Tate, the best of everything is not a meal in a Michellin-starred restaurant, it’s sucking down a Soylent Green while pounding weights and sharing invective about women on the socials.
The ball slapper in the video shared on X.com is likely to be Troy Casey, an American whose Instagram handle is @certifiedhealthnut and whose website promises “9 unorthodox and unconventional pillars of health” by filling in a form and agreeing to receive ongoing marketing material.
Casey is also into drinking his own urine, sunning his anus, and green juicing. His self-published book called “#Rippedat50: A Journey to Self-love” has a 4.6 rating on Amazon. On his Instagram feed, Casey promises the Ultimate Lifestyle Transformation that can jumpstart your health to men blindly trawling the Internet from their sofas.
We will probably never know if Dorsey is a ball slapper, but what we do know is that men, particularly young men, are presented with models of masculinity that are dangerous and a little stupid on social media, on podcasts, and on short-form videos every day. We deserve better, our friends and families deserve better, and women deserve better.