On being alpha, or not. Or how statistics don’t apply to individual cases.

Motto I : The alpha male wants to be left the fuck alone.

Ruh roh. The Decider has dropped a bomb of a dictionary definition that… *gulp*… fits me! And yet – to put on my solipsist’s hat for a moment – it couldn’t possibly!

Let’s think about this for a moment because Motto I hereabove would appear to be necessary, but hardly sufficient, to define alpha males.i I’m not sure about you, but when I think “alpha male” I think “Captain of the football team” or “Sultan Süleyman” or someone along those lines ; someone with a ready and willing harem, someone who rests comfortably atop the social pyramid from which vantage point all is visible… and perhaps even trivial. Not the kid who played non-contact sports, sang in choirs, took advanced math classes, studied immunology while reading philosophy on the side, and was less talented with women so much as… woman.ii Nuh uh. No way mister. No way no how! Not that I consider myself a zeta, but beta-plus is about as generous as even I could be.iii Not that it wouldn’t be cool if I wasn’t suddenly christened ALPHA!iv

Reasonably enough, a definition that grants my own admission into the alpha club is going to be more attractive to me than one that doesn’tv – I’m as self-serving as the best of ’em – but if I am an alpha, shouldn’t the whole of the definition jive with my personal experience ? But before we get to our second Motto of the day, let’s see if MP can’t nudge us closer to clarity in his treatise on politics :

Whenever any action is to be decided, the betas will wish to establish whether “anything bad could happen” (with the predictable answer that yes) ; the females will wish to establish if it’s fun ; and the alphas will wish to establish whether they are the ones that’ll have to do it. This is then the whole of politics : the worse the social organisation (which is to say, the more voice betas have in human affairs), the more effort alphas will have to expend to stimulate the fun bone of the females. This then produces emergent behaviours in the females, who feign alliance with the beta party to extract as much fun as they conceive they could out of the alpha party.

Here too, perhaps on account of the innumerable and very enjoyable hours I’ve now spent in the service of TMSR – some with more obvious contribution than others – I can personally relate to a definition that I’d not heretofore understood to describe me, even if I’d wanted it to. I personally have little fear that x or y or ₲ will happen so much as whether it will be my mess to clean up, certainly moreso than I fear “bad things.”

So perhaps it’s the case that I’m the unrestricted competitor swimming with the underfed alphas,vi but I guess I’d always maintained the perhaps unexamined belief – one birthed almost entirely by geographic and temporal circumstances – that being an alpha meant being “cool” with the brodudes, the hockey boys, and similarly unintellectual Untermenschen  ; groups wherein I find my relative position wanes most dramatically. Amongst accomplished, intelligent company, I’ll fend very well for myself and regularly find my relative position closer towards the top of the heap, but I have to admit that amongst spear-chucking neanderthals I seem to lack either the physical presence,vii the social savviness, the confidence, or perhaps even the character to so much as carry a conversation with the brutes. I know shit all about sports or celebrities or other such gossipy pointlessness, which seems to be the overwhelming focus of their discussions, nor do I care to know who scored how many points and why they’re the best MVP candidate this season, so when forced into such situations I tend to shy away from such numbskullery and find one of the bored girlfriends to chat up.viii Still…

Motto II : There’s actually very little statistics can say about individual cases. 

At the end of the day, this is all a bit of a shot in the dark and there’s not much more to say on the matter than this :

Even leaving the categories aside, individuals are individuals and will want specific things, which differ from the generalities here presented in their specificity, and moreover necessarily will defy classification – because in theory there’s no difference between theory and practice ; but in practice there is.

Alpha or not, I’m not a stat. And that’s perhaps the most an individual can hope for.

___ ___ ___

  1. Introverts and libertarians also want to be left the fuck alone, but neither is automatically qualified to be alpha now are they.

    Introverts, FTR, also don’t equate with antisocial retards. That’s a popular misconception. What the introversion-extraversion paradigm aims to describe is the manner in which you “recharge.” Some folks require social settings like bars and clubs to unwind at the end of a long week. These folks are called extraverts. Others require time alone to read, think, reflect, go for a walk, exercise, or what have you. These folks are called introverts, though of course this is all on a spectrum. Still, those falling into the introverted group can still be surprisingly capable in social settings, even being described as “fun” or perhaps “engaging” – yours truly being just such an example.

  2. I also subscribe to the theory that married men per definitio cannot be alphas. But perhaps this only applies to middle classmen given the number of Kings of England who’ve been married (and divorced!).
  3. Ie. I’ll readily square-off with anyone – betas, alphas – in any sort of debate no matter how trivial, and I’ll handily command the attention of an entire room of people when the occasion arises, but my compulsion to lead troops into battle is entirely dependent on the availability of viable alternatives. If there’s already a competent commander at the helm, I’m more than content to let them lead while still challenging their slightest misstep, but if there’s a clear power / leadership vacuum, I’ll happily play shepherd for the needy sheep. Ferfuxake someone has to.
  4. Perhaps you don’t want to be alpha, and that’s fine, you do you, but I see far more right with the position than wrong with it. Although I guess I’ve sort of begged the question, can one even be christened alpha ? Cincinnatus would seem to indicate that the answer is in the affirmative.
  5. I’m no Groucho Marx now.
  6. To quote MP again :

    The term is used in zoology to denote a role within a certain group. Not all species tend to express an alpha male ; some that do (and some that don’t) might express the role of alpha female. In either case this role is filled temporarily by different individuals, and external constraints can readily alter the role allocation within the group – deliberately underfed alphas will lose their position to unrestricted competitors for instance.

  7. Despite my best efforts.
  8. In grade school, these idioticly “cool” social situations was pretty much all there was. Now, the number of potential cohorts and peer groups with which one might align themselves is infinitely greater and the result is that I rarely if ever find myself in such, ahem, predicaments. Does that make me an alpha ? That I actively seek out groups where I stand near the top ? Or is that just being the tallest midget at the carnival ? Perhaps our second Motto can help solve the case.

4 thoughts on “On being alpha, or not. Or how statistics don’t apply to individual cases.

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