What guys say to women online is oftentimes insulting, yet at the same time incredible. Does it actually work?

“Damn, girl! Do you shit with that ass?” Jimmy yells as a gaggle of undergrads staggers by on Pearl Street. “That thing is unbelievable!” Out of the five girls tottering by on too-high heels with too-short skirts, only one turns around to see what kind of person would ever say something like that. She lets out a ferocious sigh and whips back around.

“Who the hell were you even talking to?” I ask. “The one in the middle. No, the one on the left, I … Hey girl, I hope you like peppers because I’m going to be jalapeño ass tonight!” Jimmy hollers at a different blonde walking by talking on her phone. She snarls and walks a little faster, crunching through fallen leaves with her sparkly pink heels.

“Has that ever worked? She looked like she wanted to punch you in the face,” I ask.

“They love it, promise. It works all the time. Not tonight yet, but trust me.” My stomach flops like a carp in the bottom of a fishing boat every time he hurls yet another lecherous statement at a passing woman. I follow just a step behind so strangers don't know he's my friend.

Jimmy was showing me how to pick up women. Since the beginning of time, men have dedicated huge portions of their lives trying to figure out how to have sex — but every single time, there’s one little problem: how to make initial contact with said woman. Jimmy claimed to be an expert, so this was my Friday night, and he promised me I’d go home with someone. The shame of harassing strangers is making me want to vomit, so I asked if there was any easier way to do this.

What’s really revolutionized Jimmy’s game, he said, is the Internet. Now, anyone with a wi-fi signal can browse through endless pages of beautiful girls and digitally catcall until their thumbs blister — all without the shame of doing it in public. Tinder was great, but now he sticks to Instagram. And he’s not the only one: On any good-looking woman’s Instagram page, there are droves of “thirsty” men lavishing her with praise and adoration. From subtle compliments to graphic, detailed descriptions of what these gentlemen would do to her given the chance, there are often pages and pages of comments on every photo.

But this couldn’t work, right? As the digital equivalent of construction workers hurling compliments at any woman that passes by, common logic would dictate that there’s no way that this interaction could end in sexual congress. But Jimmy (and lots of random Internet people) said yes. How could this be considered normal behavior in such an enlightened age? Why are literally millions of men wasting their lives trolling the Internet to compliment strangers? Could anyone act like Jimmy on Pearl Street and actually get laid? Over the next month, I complimented thousands of digital women, reached out to hundreds of thirsty dudes and almost had some sex — just to figure out what the hell was wrong with society.

Digging In

So who are the actual human beings promising to love these random women forever? It’s not just pizza-faced losers sitting in their mom’s basement. The real unsettling part? It’s everyone. Puberty to senior citizen. Male models to dumpster fires. Every single language. Fathers. Cops. Lawyers. Students. Just about everywhere in the world. All the time. When you click on the profiles of men that type disgusting things on a woman’s profile, you’ll see photos of smiling, well-dressed men posing with their wives. Or their kids. Or their softball teams. Recent stats would estimate there are 37 million men actively using Instagram every day, so how many of them are just looking to get laid?

It makes a little bit of sense, because reproductive success is tied to evolution in our history as a species. We are animals. So clearly men are utilizing advances in technology to “approach” women at top speed so they could potentially have some sex with them — the most vocal of the commenters are just following their biological instincts and trying to fulfill their evolutionary destiny. But could men everywhere really be that horny?

Doing it Myself

There was really only one way to figure this out: become a thirsty dude myself. Only gonzo journalism would unlock why men around the planet spend cumulative years of time kissing the asses of digital women. Couldn’t they take a second job? Learn French? Mow the yard? Cure cancer?

Jimmy’s advice was straightforward. “The chicks with less than 1,000 followers are much more likely to reply and/or follow back,” he said. “Needless to say, if she likes and comments on a bunch of your pics after you comment, that in itself is an invitation to approach. I also go for chicks with more followers. 5,000-10,000 followers are still relatively approachable. Over 10,000 is like playing the lotto but if she’s hot as fuck, just DM (direct message) her anyway.”

So I made an account, added a few photos, and followed 100 random women, from supermodels and porn stars to average Colorado women. Then I started laying on the praise.

During week one, I’d post somewhat-endearing “Wow, you’re so cute”–style comments. Week two was more aggressive, dedicated to overusing words like sexy, perfect and beautiful — and asking them to DM me. And all shame was removed on week three, when I decided to post some of the most disgusting things I’ve ever typed.

God, I’m creepy.

I was acting just like Jimmy on Pearl Street, lobbing compliments (ranging from heartfelt to stomach-turning) at women I’d never met and would never see again. With every post, I felt like a faceless drone in a crowd, staring at a beautiful woman on a stage — I was just screaming along with everyone else and generally being ignored.

Thankfully, I found a macro program that would be a creep for me, automatically commenting for me around the clock — which saved me the indignity of actually writing out those terrible things thousands of times. I’d set the day’s message, then check back the next morning to see what had happened.

Ultimately, Jimmy said it would come down to the law of averages. My online mentor admitted, “this WILL get you attention from the opposite sex and I guarantee you it’ll work about 5% of the time. Five percent of the girls on your Instagram will reach out and want more of that attention you’re giving to them. Now, if you talk to 1,000 girls, that 5% turns into a pretty big number.”

The Results

After thousands of posts to random women, examining thousands more from random men, a lot of private conversations and a full month of being as creepy as possible, the results were in: I never got laid. I had a few conversations with women, but nothing ever really materialized — it was largely polite responses or private cam-show offers from adult entertainers. The entire month’s experiment left me even lonelier than when I started — and seriously depressed for our plugged-in, obsessive culture. I went out to shoot pool at the Sundowner with some friends after finishing the month-long creep fest, and chatting with new people in real life was infinitely more satisfying than any online exchange I’d had.

But the main discovery was that Instagram is just overwhelming proof of how lonely we’ve become as a society. It’s sad that women would post provocative images of themselves in an attempt to gain validation and praise from society, and just as sad that men would reach out by any means necessary, hoping to make any kind of connection with nearly any woman. Humanity just wants to be loved.

At the end of the day, it’s not a matter of being “that horny,” but really being “that lonely.” Out of the oceans of praise given to Internet women, one comment stuck with me: “PLEASE NOTICE THIS! I LOVE YOU PLEASE SEE THIS.” You can laugh at how thirsty this guy seems, but for him (and most thirsty dudes on the Internet), it honestly just seems like he’s depressed and lonely. His profile made him look like a normal college student, posting shots of himself with his friends, in bars and out in the mountains, but his comment painted a different picture. Desperate for human interaction, he’s reaching out to this gorgeous stranger, hoping that she’ll respond to his yell into the void.

And men aren’t the only desperate ones here — social media works both ways. Say what you will, but people post only for the attention. It’s 100% narcissism. If ladies didn’t want the likes, comments and social validation provided by posting their super cute selfie, they’d keep all their photos on their hard drive. But it’s a basic human need: to love and to be loved. To have people approve of you. To make people proud of you. Instagram gives people a chance to connect with the world, garnering attention and adoration instantly — and potentially forming real connections with real people. Whether it’s a man or a woman, professional model or greasy teenager, every single selfie posted to the Internet is a photographic plea for attention, begging, “PLEASE NOTICE THIS! I LOVE YOU PLEASE SEE THIS.”

And Jimmy? He said he bagged a few hot chicks over the last month, but I never saw them. Now he’s dating a girl he met at work, and they seem really happy. Just as long as she’s not on Instagram — and she really likes jalapeños.

Have you ever gotten laid complimenting women on Instagram?

The results of an informal poll of 100 thirsty men:
67%: Fuck you, asshole (or some derivation thereof)
24%: All the time / constantly
6%: It’s worked a few times
3%: Ha ha … no

The thirstiest comments we’ve ever seen

“I’ll lick your body all night if you give me Parmesan.”
“I would swim through the pacific ocean in a fish suit just to clean your dishes.”
“I would drag my balls through 3 miles of broken glass stained in Rosie O’Donnell’s armpit sweat just to meet you.”
“If I had to punch a nun dead in the face to date you I wouldn’t hesitate.”
“If you shit in my hand, I’d clap.”
“It looks like you fart baby angels.”
“I would kick my mom in the head while she was asleep if I could eat that.”