So You Think You’re An Alpha Male?

Instagram / Leo Jenkins
Instagram / Leo Jenkins

We exist in an absolutely chaotic day and age. Society’s complex layers are further exacerbated by each individual’s perceptions on their role in said society. Most men are in a perpetual state of self-ranking and social posturing. There is a primal need to prove where you should be in the proverbial pecking order. We see examples of this every day. I see it in the passive-aggressive way guys jockey for position while surfing. In that particular environment, a handful of highly experienced wave riders consider themselves to be the alpha male. They do their version of a primal dance to show their dominance. All of this is ultimately for the same reason—procuring evolutionary resources. To phrase it more colloquially, it’s to get the hottest chick in eyesight.

This dance can be seen in college classrooms and sports fields alike. There is a visceral component in each of us that encourages the flexing of our particular beneficial evolutionary adaptations. Some guys are really good with making and managing money. At its core, this shows a potential mate the individual’s advanced ability to maintain resources. A squirrel does the same thing. The flaw that we inherently make as humans is assessing our overall position as an alpha male based on the one aspect of society at which we seem to excel. A rich man believes himself at the top of the mating food chain because his ability to gather acorns is better than the poor man’s. Alternately, the guy who has a very high IQ believes he is superior because of that one trait, regardless of monetary shortcomings.

A man with a fierce warrior mentality and the physical disposition to inflict violence at whim displays a somewhat antiquated—yet still crucial—role in the definition of a human alpha male. This individual displays an ability to protect his mate and offspring effectively. This is the type of man who will most commonly designate himself an alpha male. We as a species, however, have evolved beyond the point of this being the sole determining factor.

Here is where the complexity of the human mind comes into play. We have the cognitive ability to assess our position in the hierarchy based on whatever we choose. Perhaps you don’t possess good looks and have a low-paying, low-power job. So what? You are consistently the top performer at the 5:30AM CrossFit class—obviously your superior fitness should place you higher in the social order, right?

This is where things become convoluted. Our ability to assess our ranking based on what we do well creates a great deal of confusion as to who is actually at the top of the pyramid.

In the overwhelming majority of situations, the human alpha male actually doesn’t impose his superiority because he understands the futility of the action. For an individual who has already shown, in a multitude of arenas, their acme competence there is no necessity to further prove himself. A man who achieves triumph in the tribulations of warfare, for example, has no evolutionary need to further express his proficiency in violence. To engage in conflict for the sake of conflict, at this point of maturation, is fruitless. This, however, does not make him an alpha. The man who has a Ph.D. in politics needs not engage in a social-media debate to prove his savvy. This achievement alone, however, also does not result in an alpha designation. The man who makes a seven-figure salary while maintaining modesty also comes up short.

The man who can seamlessly flow from provider to protector and from intellectual to athlete without constantly needing to validate his position is the best living example of our species’ alpha. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Author of Lest We Forget, On Assimilation and the soon-to-be-released First Train Out of Denver.

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