Monday, October 7, 2013

Prisoners of the Power Pyramid

Todd Frogonherben parked his mother’s sedan in the lot of the Convention Centre for the monthly Omega Gathering. He glanced in the rearview mirror at the balding dome of his head, the red blotches around his ears and forehead, and the dandruff that marked the spots where he habitually twirled his remaining greasy locks when nervous, which was often. Sighing, he double-checked his wallet to ensure he’d brought his identification card. There it was: a photo of his miserable face and hunched shoulders besides which the classification “Omega” stood out, typed in bold above his age, date of birth and home address. Strapping on his backpack which he’d had since high school, he left the car, waited in line for half an hour, displayed his ID card to the beta at the door, and took a floor plan from the brochure rack.
Dressed in cheap shirts and jogging pants, and challenging the Centre’s air conditioners with their questionable body odour, thousands of underemployed, undersexed and introverted omega men swarmed the aisles of the convention. They hounded alphas for their autograph, paid for photos with their favourite seduction artist, squealed with glee as they lay on stage while alphas ceremoniously ground their flabby bellies beneath the soles of their thousand dollar Italian shoes, or sat in packed program rooms where panels of Game experts lectured or led workshops.
Those lessons were all fantasies, of course, thought Todd. Not that the rules of the Game didn’t apply; naturally they did, but only alphas could fairly win. The shy, bitter, overweight, ugly, or mentally ill omega men could be coached all they liked, but everyone knew that was just for the vicarious thrill of pretending you were something you’re not. It was like those cooking shows that bored people liked to watch even though they never bothered with any of the recipes in their home cooking.
In years past, Todd had cowered on that stage and sat in those lecture halls too, but this month he was here on business.
After roaming the aisles, he stood for an hour in another line until he earned an audience with Alpha Lord Scott Derringer, Wall Street bank VP at 26 and nationally renowned pickup artist and cocksman. It was like beholding an Olympian god: you dared not raise your eyes for long, but when you did catch a glimpse of his perfectly square jaw, prominent chin, piercing gaze, and muscular physique beneath his tailored suit, you began to share the alpha’s disgust with you—assuming you weren’t an alpha yourself. Todd berated himself like a crazy person on a street corner, bewailing his homeliness, his poverty, his many personal failures and failings.
“That’s enough of that,” Scott said. “I don’t have all day. If you’re into masochism, that underling there will show you to Stage B.”
            “No, sir,” Todd recovered. “I have a target for you and I’ve got the fee right here.”
            “$500 is the base price, plus program-specific costs and the usual begging ritual.”
            “Yes, sir, that’s what your website told me. Here’s the base fee.”
            “Fine, then. What’s the subject of your Invocation? And who’s the target?”
            “Her name’s Michelle. She’s a 9.4 on the OB meter. She works near where I live. For two years I’ve watched her through the window, walking to the local coffee shop on her breaks. Once, I got drunk, waited for her there and tried to strike up a conversation with her. Needless to say, she shot me down.”
            “Of course she did. Do you have the Objective Beauty readout with you? I’ll also need your contact info and the particulars of her whereabouts and patterns of activity.”
            “Yes sir.” Todd removed the folder from his backpack. What a handy app that OBM is, Todd mused; granted, it was invented by the lowliest of omega nerds who registered himself with the DHPS as an Alpha Player just because he struck it rich. As the Game Bible declares, riches are necessary but not sufficient for the Score. Naturally, that nerd failed the requisite tests and was downgraded to beta status. But the OB app is ingenious, using face-recognition software and a photo of the woman to calculate the averageness and thus the objective beauty of her facial features, and the extent to which her figure approximates the hourglass ideal. The photo enters a database and the woman is ranked on the traditional scale of 1 to 10. No such app is needed to rank men’s handsomeness, of course, since there’s no equivalent demand from women—what with men being the more visual creatures while women are preoccupied with men’s social status and with keeping track of emotionally complex relationships. In short, men prefer to gawk at women’s tits and ass, while women like to gossip.
            “Yeah,” Scott assured him, looking over the delectable curves displayed in Michelle’s profile picture, “a 9.4 hottie is certainly out of your league. You know what the odds against you scoring with her are?”
            “The DHPS says I’m more likely to get hit by a meteor than to get into bed with her.”
            “Pretty impudent to go up against the Dominance Hierarchy Positioning System. But I suppose you’ve got lots of free time on your hands for idle daydreams.”
            “Yes, sir,” Todd said, meekly.
            “That window you stare at her from, that would be at your parents’ house, right?” Scott narrowed his eyes as if he were Superman, about to melt Todd’s face off with his ocular laser beams.
            “Right,” said Todd, looking down at his shoes.
            “And you live—let me guess—in the basement. And you’re what, in your thirties?”
            “Right on all counts, Lord Alpha.”
            “If I were typically wrong, I wouldn’t be raking in the big bucks like I am. Anyway, what routine are you begging me to run on her? I normally offer two degrees of Vicarious Victory. I get her phone number and have her swooning for me to call her but I never do, or I go all the way, seducing her, bedding her and leaving her to yearn for another encounter with me. Either way I kiss and tell, giving you the full report. So which will it be?”
            “All the way, sir. All the fucking way.”
            “That will be another thousand, then, half of which must be paid in advance.” Todd handed him the rest of the advance payment. “It’s down to the begging, Omega Todd.”
            “Of course, Lord Alpha.” Todd knelt in front of Scott, bowed his head, grunted while Scott stretched his legs across the omega’s back, and recited the Omega’s Plea for Alpha Intercession. “Lord Alpha Scott Derringer, I humbly beseech you, for I am weak while you are strong, for I am low while you are high. In the world’s eyes I fail, but let me see through yours. May you show me grace, may the crumbs from your table fall into my lap, and may you feast on the game that evades my spear. With this confession of my status as a nonentity in the Game, I hereby invoke your intercession.”
            “Very well, your prayer’s been registered,” said Scott, lifting his legs and allowing Todd to rise. “And I answer: it shall be done. I’ll call you within the week after I’ve won and we’ll meet for your VV. Next!” Scott called over Todd’s shoulder to the omega behind him.
            “Thank you, Alpha Lord,” said Todd, bowing as he backed away, “and bless you, sir.”
            Elsewhere in the convention hall, away from most of the commotion, a trio of women protested behind a crowd control divider, holding up signs and concentrating their verbal attacks against the alphas within earshot, since the omega males were beneath their contempt. Abigail Watson was surprised that their denunciations of this sexist enterprise weren’t just ignored. Instead, there was this special spot on the main floor reserved for protestors, and alphas themselves frequently stopped and smirked at them, the men’s arms folded against their broad chests. Shouldn’t there be more protestors? That’s what Abigail wanted to know. All she could cajole into joining her this month were her two friends, both of whom owned her a favour. Last month she was here all alone, condemning the proceedings.
            An alpha male, who coincidentally was another of the many vice presidents at Scott’s bank and who likewise had a superhero’s good looks, stopped just in front of one of Abigail’s friends and began questioning her.
            “I’ll handle this, Brenda,” said Abigail. Turning to the alpha, she asked how many women he’d abused since the last of these infernal conventions.
            “That’s a loaded question,” he said. “I don’t act against anyone’s will--and that includes the will of the omega chumps.”
            “Oh, you’re so noble, Mr. Alpha, and yet you just called them chumps. Why don’t you say that to their face? See how long this ‘gathering’ would last then!”
            “I’m Mike Hodgson. And they know what they are; we alphas don’t make them losers. The world’s made them so, and the world includes their genes, their life decisions and yes, you women yourselves with your sexual preferences. Sure, you’re not obsessed with superficial charms, like we men are, but you crave romance and adventure which only a heroically confident man can provide. It’s largely because of your womanly desires that the DHPS ranks many men as falling so low in the pecking order.”
            “You don’t know me at all, you sexist pig! I wouldn’t prefer you if you were the last man on Earth.”
            “Of course not. That’s because you’re the equivalent of a beta male. You’re what, a 6 on the OB meter? Assuming you’re straight, that means you’re either single or married to a beta.”
            “I’m married to a wonderful man, thank you very much!”
            “And what’s the Dominance Hierarchy ranking on his ID card?”
            “He’s beta. So what?”
            “So, because the lines around your eyes indicate you’re in your 40s, there’s a good chance you’ve fallen to a 6 from, say, a 7 over the years. That means you were once In Play. Have any dalliance with an alpha when you were young, did you?”
            “My sex life is none of your business.”
            “I’ll take that as a yes. That means you had your taste of romantic thrills, but you couldn’t afford them on a permanent basis because your age got the better of you, and so you’ve had to settle for a care-taker beta. And now you’re taking your resentment out on us, because we no longer give you a passing glance—unless we target you to make some poor omega man’s day.”
            “Who do you think you are, you self-righteous asshole!”
            “Oh, I’m a multimillionaire alpha male with houses in France and Fiji, who looks like a young Brad Pitt. Who are you, lady?”
            “Such an asshole, you are. I mean, really! You’re just a parasite, exploiting people’s weaknesses—and all for cheap sex. You’re a materialist, a hedonist, and a narcissist. Someday, you’ll lose your good looks and then—”
            “And then nothing. An alpha ranking is permanent once he passes the psycho-social tests. Again, you women make it that way. It’s because women don’t care so much about looks that men can remain alphas even in their old age.”
            “So you could lose your wealth in some crappy stock market deal. And where would you be then?”
            “I’d get to work and make back my millions. I had to fight for them and I could do it again. Maybe I’d lose, fair and square, and I’d die a pauper. But I’d still be an alpha because I’d fight like a man. Blame the world that forces us to compete for insufficient resources.”
            “No, nothing forces you to be such a power-hungry misogynist. That’s all on you.”
            “I don’t hate women. I love them. My passion for women drives me to excel so that I can give them what they want.”
            “If you love women, why do you ‘target’ them so you and your omega buddies can laugh at them behind their back? Answer me that!”
            “Well, I don’t speak for everyone here, but I love power too. It’s a juggling act, I grant you. Power is the great aphrodisiac; it’s the means to the romantic end. Without power, we wouldn’t attract women and so we wouldn’t have what we most want. But fighting for power sometimes sets us at odds with women, especially when women are divided against themselves.”
            “What the hell are you talking about? Now you’re going to blame women again, just because you go to fancy restaurants instead of hunting for food, so to still feel like a man you have to pretend to be hunting women? Feminism’s already defeated you and you don’t even know it. Haven’t you heard that metrosexual men are what civilized women now prefer? You’d better feminize yourself or you’ll have only your memories to keep you warm at night.”
            Alpha Mike chuckled. “Yeah, that’s what I meant about being self-divided. You call yourself a feminist, is that it? You want men and women to be equal in all ways—except you don’t and you know it. Again, I don’t blame women. Nature makes us what we are. You’re instinctively attracted to masculine men, because your brain evolved long before the rise of the decadent feminist movement. And I’ve been gifted with the strengths to succeed in those evolutionary terms, to overpower most men and thus to endear myself to women who want both the thrill of being swept off their feet by a beast that they can pretend to tame, and the security to raise their children and fulfill their motherly instinct.
“Trust me, feminism isn’t defeating masculine men. It’s the majority of women that loses out when it gets distracted by the propaganda of resentful lesbians. Just as gay males in the fashion industry try to avenge themselves by force-feeding gullible hetero men a warped ideal of female beauty, which forces women to starve themselves so they can look like teenage boys, bitter lesbian feminists try to feminize masculine men to prevent hetero women from being happy. Whether those homosexuals target hetero men or women, our natural instincts will have the last laugh. Gay folks should wake up and lay the blame where it belongs, at the feet of Mother Nature for making us all what we are, regardless of whether that makes our life easy or hard.”
            “Wow, your bigotry is just astonishing. You really are a beast; you should be locked in a cage.”
            “Blah, blah, blah! Do you want me to sing you a PC lullaby so you can go back to sleep?
            “Why are you even here, alpha swine? What do you get out of these Omega Gatherings? I mean, you don’t need the money and you can’t enjoy the company of these losers.”
            “The history of these Gatherings is in the brochure by the front entrances. You should check it out. Anyway, I do enjoy the omegas’ company: I enjoy them not as equals but as my slaves. Again, nature drives me to seek power and to revel in it to attract women. It’s not enough to win a top ranking; you have to signal your victory to others so that your power can be put to efficient use. So we have our rituals here to let each other know who’s on top and who’s on bottom. We rub the lowly man’s nose in his wretchedness, but we make it up to him by using our power in his honour. We give him his Vicarious Victory. An omega man is still a human being, after all, and he deserves some happiness, no?”
            “You don’t efficiently use your power; you abuse it by hooking up with women, lying to them, kicking them to the curb and bragging about it to supply the male underclass with jack-off material. Way to elevate the human race!” 
            “The women we seduce have fond memories of the experience. And what have you done for the omegas? We give them some satisfaction in the hard life they’ve been cursed with. What help are you women who settle for beta males? Like bean counters, you calculate the very best you can do in the Game and so you leave the omegas to rot. I save them from the misery prepared for them by the selfish instincts that run your life for you. I don’t have to be here; I choose to, because nature made me a goddamned superhero in your midst! So just be glad we lend you this space on the convention floor, so we can amuse ourselves by listening to your foolishness. And ask yourself why there aren’t herds of protestors crashing through the doors. Maybe it’s for the same reason the seduction routines we run on women work more often than not.
            “Alas, I must dash. Farewell, madam. I’m off to my harem in Fiji.”
            Alpha Mike blew Abigail a kiss and strode out of the Convention Centre.
            Weeks later, after the successful conclusion of his business with Todd and Michelle, Scott Derringer sat behind his desk and rubbed his eyes after having scrutinized the labyrinthine Upper Echelon Dominance Hierarchy displayed on his laptop screen. He looked out his wall of windows at the crowd of lower-Manhattan skyscrapers, surrounding him like the senators that stabbed Julius Caesar. There’s no end to an alpha’s war, is there? he asked himself. Just look what you have to contend with, he thought, as he turned back to the screen. There was the hierarchy within the hierarchy, the map of power positions, status symbols, and strategic aspirations that separated the alphas from each other. The tragedy is that although all alpha males are orders of magnitude superior to betas and the rest, alphas must also rank each other’s relative position. When you’re driven by ambition and the thrill of the hunt, even when you catch your prey you’re already plotting the next gambit.
            There, for example, was Mike Hodgson, represented by a node in the millions of branches that encompassed all the world’s masters. If only Alphas were all on the same team, on the same hunt, Scott thought, they wouldn’t have to compete or the competition could be just a game indeed, as men playfully called the manly life. But it’s not a game, it’s life and death, and Alphas naturally oppose each other even when they work in the same organization. Whose bonus last quarter was larger, Mike’s or Scott’s? Who had more houses, cars, and women? Whose mastery of seduction was more complete? And who would climb higher up the power pyramid? The elite version of the DHPS, for alphas’ eyes only, mapped out the potential moves and countermoves and the magnitudes of triumph that would give any alpha a headache if he tried to absorb even a tiny fraction of that global power struggle’s complexity.
            Scott marveled at the naivety of the reporters who wrote about the Omega Gatherings. They couldn’t fathom why alphas would choose to spend time with the lowest of the low, as if an alpha male were anything like saintly Mother Theresa. And the beta readers nod their head and scratch their chin, wondering what’s going on. Betas are so desperate to turn into alphas that they can’t appreciate the inner nightmare of the power elite’s mindset. Imagine being smart and powerful enough to know about all those who are roughly as smart and powerful as you, Scott felt like telling those readers, to know you’re at perpetual war with them all, to fear that any one of them could scheme against you and come for what you have. Of course, you fight like a man, but that fight is exhausting, even for a superhero. And there’s the brotherhood of the insiders, of the illuminati and all of that. But alphas slum with the untouchables and the nobodies to escape the daily grind of having to worry about the ulterior motives of their alpha brothers, including the sociopaths and evil, Machiavellian geniuses.
What a relief to fraternize with a fellow who’s taken himself out of the Game!


  1. These alpha and beta stereotypes are cartoonish, they don't make for a good story. And this vicarious victory thing is absurd. Plenty of references to cultish PUA lore that just sound weird for non partisans.

    1. Well, this story is meant to be satirical not realistic. Satires exaggerate certain things to make a point. I'm well aware that omegas don't actually seek support from alphas, but it strikes me that this would be one desperate way for those who are low in the pecking order to alleviate their suffering. Of course, those who are high in the pecking order would hardly be ideal saviours, since power corrupts. So the moral of this story is something like "A pox on all our houses!"

      I don't think it's pick-up culture lore that this story uses so much as evolutionary psychology, which pick-up artists use to rationalize their preoccupations.

      Anyway, sorry you didn't like this story. I'll be starting to post some Onion-style, fake-journalist reports soon as more explicit attempts at humour. Maybe you'll like those better.

  2. I was going to say it was cartoonish, but it kept just a little closeness to the bone (somewhat like the horrible histories TV show does - how it gives garish, cartoonish depictions - yet they are from actual events) enough to make the blow up sting.

    1. Well, if you're talking about the depiction of omegas, I just tried to imagine an exaggerated version of what would happen if omegas and alphas were put in the same room. What sort of religion might form? Side by side, alphas would show their many strengths and they'd dominate like the wolf in the opening photo. But I don't let alphas off the hook of this satire. We're *all* prisoners of the power pyramid.

    2. The depiction of all of them. Anyway, I was thinking about this and it strikes me that it could be hashed out to be a movie script (I say hashed out because a movie typically goes for an hour and a half to two hours, and what we have so far wouldn't cover that much time I think) and I think there is alot of extra ground extending from the premise that could be detailed. Basically all movie scripts are like a lottery in terms of whether the movie is made, but I feel this premise is good enough that it's like having more than one ticket. You'll do me a favour and atleast consider hashing out a broader script, Ben?

      Maybe I’d lose, fair and square, and I’d die a pauper. But I’d still be an alpha because I’d fight like a man.
      I want to pitch back something like the question: Even as you are reduced to living in your parents basement?

      Also the idea seems to almost support the notion these 'alphas' would be able to win back their millions - when most are simply born into a position of power. It's a little humanocentric to attribute the resources to the capacity of the human - for example, if you find oil, but then lose the company - well, there is no quality in a human that will make you find more oil if there is no more oil to be found (it doesn't spawn for you, like in a mmorpg). If there is no more oil to be found, then there isn't - that method of winning back millions just isn't available.

      Not related to the movie script idea, I feel that part could do with some extra detail - ie, the alpha gets to have the stage a little too much to himself and for just alot too long on that notion.

    3. I'm flattered you think this story could be expanded in that way. In fact, I have thought of expanding it in novel form. In particular, I'd like to flesh out what ought to be the hell of living as an alpha male among fellow alpha males, such as in business or in politics. My priority is finishing the four books in the zombie series, but maybe I'll take a break somewhere in the middle and work this story up into a novel. I don't have experience writing in script form.

      I doubt an alpha male would be reduced to living in his parent's basement. He'd manipulate his friends into loaning him money or he'd steal what he needs. Losing "fair and square" means fair from a naturalistic perspective, not from a moral one, when we're talking about alpha male/ubermensch mentality. Remember, it's the nice guy who finishes last. And having good looks makes for a great head start and safety net.

    4. Fair from a naturalistic perspective? Ah, the beauty of just world fallacy drawn to even further justice destroying extremes...

      Anyway, I think the story has solid potential - then if you suceed I can say 'see, I encouraged him and lo, it was good - am I not wise!?' >:) hehe! Plus also it'd raise the bar on alot of movies out there which have hourglass figures and supposed alpha's in them.

  3. Hahaha! Your acerbic tongue in cheek tone made this hilarious.

    I've never seen their world view so effectively satirized and made to look so presumptuous and pathetic.

    The small details are brilliant.

    The mental image of some empty suit with a big chin and cheesy "motivational coach" smile signing autographs standing on some nerd with his polished Italian shoes! Precious.

    Only a true 'high-powered' dickhead is named after a gun i.e. "Shooter" McGavin.

    Lots of people try to criticize their world view by reasoning with them, and that's their mistake.

    I do think they ('game' people) have some great insights into human nature which I've found quite useful. There's legitimacy in encouraging people to try to improve their lot in life in an impartial world and become self-sufficient...but their overall philosophy and worldview is hollow.
    Really, it's just the ideals of free market capitalism applied to human relationships.

    And you touch, as I have, on the fundamental problem of defining everything by competition. By definition, nothing can ever be good enough. One can never be satisfied.

    1. I'm glad you liked it. I agree the evolutionary psych. view of human nature isn't wholly without merit. On the contrary, I think many of the points made against liberal feminist criticism are valid. But the EP view ends in tragedy, as I suggest in the last section. Plus, it leaves omegas out in the cold, which is why this blog is meant to help lift omegas up.