Mailvox: SSH, Status, and the Sigma

AJ thinks I might have failed to grasp a necessary male behavior due to my inability to understand or care about the various norms within the hierarchy.

First, thank you for the SSH. It was invaluable while I was still in the military, and is still incredibly useful in the corporate world. Using the SSH framework, I am able to quickly assess who the natural leaders were, who needed extra help because they were promoted beyond their natural traits, and whom to avoid at all costs.

Over the years, I’ve watched you regularly admonish people who seem overly concerned about their place in the hierarchy, labeling that a gamma trait. It caused me to reflect on my own behavioral patterns, concerned that I might have some gamma tendencies. After talking to my brother–also an avid blog reader–about this, we agreed that it is probably normal for men to want to know their place in the hierarchy. Yes, gammas obsess over where they are, and want to hack their way to the top, but most people just want to know where they stand…except for Sigmas.

You correctly identify the true utility of the SSH; it’s predictive power over others’ behavior, but I think you dismiss the introspective utility, mainly because you’re a Sigma, and you don’t care about your place in the hierarchy at all, being completely outside it.

This is entirely possible. What strikes me as an inexplicable and incessant obsession with status may be nothing more than necessary pecking order management. I realize that it is very common for people to posture on the Internet, which is why assertions of indifference are usually dismissed by everyone, quite correctly, as a false pose, but as literally everyone who has ever met me and spent more than five minutes in my presence will attest, I pay literally no personal attention to male social status.

Professional attention is different. I’m not socially retarded and I understand the need to pay the great and good their due. But it’s the proper public respect shown toward the priest, the CEO, the professor, or the general that is the mask. I don’t actually defer to them in any way, shape, or form, and the more astute among them can always sense it.

Exceptions: Richard Garriott, Sid Meier, John Carmack, Umberto Eco, Martin van Creveld, Prince, John C. Wright, Steve Keen. That’s pretty much the list, as far as I can recall. It appears I instinctively defer to what I perceive as genius rather than status.

But it makes sense that those within the hierarchy would always be curious to know their status vis-a-vis the others due to its fractal nature. Every time one shifts into a new social context, one’s status subtly shifts, although one’s behavior pattern does not. So whereas the outsider is solely concerned with the behavioral patterns, the insider is naturally going to be interested in paying attention to both.

It’s an interesting suggestion, anyhow. I shall obviously have to pay more attention to the status-monitoring behavior of other men in social contexts. This could well require an entire chapter in the book.