Sunday, July 25, 2010

(Man) Pack

I want to thank all who have come back to visit.  Daisy said I was more engaged with the family this last week so that was good to hear.  Anyway, more of an opinion blog today.  Hope you don't mind.

Wolf packs are hierarchical social structures with an "alpha", subordinate "beta" wolves and a low ranking "omega" which bares the brunt of the pack's aggression. The alpha wolf is given preference to be the first to eat and the first to mate. A beta wolf will act as a new alpha if the old alpha dies. Omega bares the brunt of the pack's aggression, is subordinated to all others in the community, and is the last allowed to eat.

Please excuse me if I make an exaggerated parallel to men. I certainly would not say a leader of a group of men would eat his Taco Bell first while expecting the least respected man on the totem pole to wait until he was done. However, there is a lot to say regarding men who do things together and the dynamic that occurs when it happens. I have traveled with man packs and enjoy the feeling of making a presence when walking into a bar, movie theatre, or even in the outdoors such as fishing or snowboarding. There is something that is satisfying when I am part of a social system with men I enjoy being with. But it really sucks when the Alpha male has a fragile ego which, in turn, means the group of men are less likely to feel comfortable with who they are. They are also more likely to protect the ego of their leader when others may appear to threaten it. But, human relationships are so important it is sometimes better to stay with an emotionally/spiritually unhealthy group than to chance being alone for a while.

In the hierarchy of men I don’t think the emotionally/spiritually healthiest of the group becomes the alpha.  In fact, because men are very sensitive to shame, and especially fear shame/embarrassment in front of other men, the alpha may find a way to achieve status by withholding shame from members who appease him once they know he is capable of it.  There may two guys who fight for the top spot which makes thing complex. In more primitive of groups it may actually be a fight including but not limited to the ideas, developed skills, or perhaps the most successful ($) man.  Alpha achievement is also a social game. This is especially annoying to watch. When I see guys trying to be top dogs (peacocks blooming their feathers) I just want to say, “Hey guys, drop your pants, let’s see who has the biggest penis, and then we can get on with it.” But it is not always in the traditional sense of manly men with big trucks but also with computer programmers who fight over whether a Mac or pc is best and who might know the most about either. Most men are happy enough to be with a group of guys (betas) and may not even care about being the alpha. However, unbeknownst to their conscious mind, betas will position themselves in the hierarchy until the rhythm of the group is established.  The rhythm will then need to be reestablished if a man leaves or enters the group. 

I don’t think anybody fights to the omega man in the group but some guys don’t mind getting teased or chastised if it means they still belong. What perked my interest in wolves was a nature program I saw that pointed out, through their behavior, who the alpha, betas, and omega were in a specific pack they had followed. The pack would nip at the omega, chase the omega and, as mentioned before, would leave him the scraps after everyone had their fill of food. But what is most interesting is what happened when the omega died. The pack became depressed and essentially mourned the death of their companion for at least two weeks. The omega served a purpose in that he kept the pack in balance. There cannot be a pack without an omega or an alpha. A beta would now have to take the omega’s place.

I respect my fellow brothers but sometimes it appears as if there is a correlation with lower intelligence (higher risk behaviors) as the number of men in the group increases.  The context of the group setting is important depending on if it is a Bachelor party in Vegas or going to dinner at Denny's.  I hope not to appear as if I am immune or incredibly judgemental. But sometimes it is nice to take as step back and laugh at our own human behavior.

Now I want all of you to know there are no scientific sources I can cite to support any of what I have said. I’m simply popping off with opinions. I am led to believe women may have their own pecking order but it may be more subtle, and from what I understand, incredibly cruel and certainly not as overt as men’s misguided behavior. Am I right in this?

No comments:

Post a Comment