Exploring a status game model for understanding negative behavior
I’ve been thinking for a few years about the danger presented by humiliated people and groups. That is, people who not only feel like they have no respect and no options to gain any respect, but who also feel that:
They deserve those things, and…
That someone else is the cause of them not having them
I think both are critical. If you feel tread upon but feel like it’s just the natural order of things, you’re less likely to be angry about it. But if you feel you’re “better than this”, and “being disrespected”, and “it’s your time to rise up”, well…then there will be problems.
The cover is weird on purpose because of the topic.
I just read a few phenomenal books by Will Storr, one of which was called The Status Game. Its premise is that status is the ultimate game, and that all other games are really just embedded mini-games. Money, power, etc. None of those would be important if they didn’t impart status.
What status game are you playing?
Throughout the book he looks at many instances of people who’ve become violent—both individuals and groups—and points to events where they were acutely humiliated. He also talks about people being mostly tied to a particular status game, and how extraordinarily difficult it is for some to switch once it’s lost or removed.
THE STATUS GAME SO MANY TRUMP VOTERS ARE TRYING TO GET BACK
Uneducated US white workers 50 years ago had a thriving status game. It was being a solid American. Working at a known company. Having a healthy family. Being a good Christian. And all media was about white people and performed by white people, with other races and cultures basically being background scenery.
These are mostly gone now. Whether from automation, or atheism, or globalism, or the reduced oppression of other ethnic groups, anyone playing a status game based on white cultural dominance in the US is currently in bad shape.
So that’s one example. Let’s look at more where 1) they are either lacking a status game or they have one where they’re losing, and 2) they are angry about this.
Generalizations ahead, proceed with caution.
The status game is high school (yikes)
Good looks, humor, charisma, athletics, academics
Kids without those are often bullied
Bullying often becomes humiliation
Access to social media lets them find similar people who are also angry
Those people might be part of groups who can offer another status game
That status game might be based on racism or nationalism or mysogyny
There is extensive study being done on these topics, but it seems obvious that bullied kids are gravitating towards forums that promote hate. And most of that hate seems to be around race, nationalism, or hatred of women.
I said in Frontview Mirror 2021 Edition that I thought white people were going to be the dominant terror threat for some time in the future.
Here I’m speaking generally of young, less-educated, less-fortunate white people who don’t have many economic or mating options, and the older generation who told them they’re being stolen from
In their minds they used to be on top in the US, and then it all got messed up by…someone
Could be the Blacks, Jews, Liberals, Women—or whatever their particular group or forum is focused on
Extreme-left culture is doubling down on this by messaging that all white people should feel guilty and ashamed
This makes it easy for extremist groups to recruit young white males into groups that channel hate. And most importantly, they provide a new status game. A status game based on being proud of something. Which is usually either 1) whiteness, 2) being American, or 3) being a man. Not necessarily in that order—again, the research is just starting on this stuff
I’ve also been thinking for years about how this dynamic applies to China.
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China was successful for hundreds of years, with the best math, the best technology, the most literate population, etc. They had won their chosen status game, which was something like Confucianism + Taoism
They opted out of the status games other regions were playing, like Europe, and the US, and Russia, and they got left behind
During this time they got invaded, conquered, experienced famines, social and political upheval, and general misery
They even have a name for this, and they refer to it often in their current political speeches. It’s called The Century of Humiliation. I mean it’s right in the name.
The current president uses this as the fire to motivate the Chinese people, essentially saying:
It’s Make China Great Again.
We need to be a little careful with these types of models. They’re useful, but it’s easy to over-attribute them if you turn them into a fetish. There are obviously lots of factors that go into making someone agressive, or violent, or otherwise anti-social. But I do think this ‘pride and status and humiliation’ model has a lot of explanatory power.
And one of the most interesting and powerful things about this model is that it hints at a solution. If the cause of so much of our negativity in the world is individuals and groups feeling like they have no value, and no status game they can play without being horrible, then why not focus on building better status games? And why not ceate culture and messaging that restores status to those who feel it’s been taken?
Narrative for would-be school shooters
Narrative for white people
Narrative for China
We need to understand who’s hurting, and why—especially those who are being given harmful explanations for their treatment by extremists. Because those are the people most likely to hate and hurt others. In other words, we need to build healthy Status Messaging and healthy Status Games for those that are suffering most.
The alternative status games are already out there, and they come from extremists that are actively recruiting. We must create and broadcast healthy alternatives.
I highly recommend all Will Storr’s books, which you can find here.
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