How To Play The Status Game Will Storr Modern Wisdom Podcast 374


Video Creator’s Channel Chris Williamson

author link

  • anthropologist
  • micronesia
  • communities
  • social
  • culture

But I Just Thought It Was Extraordinary That In

1986 there was council culture. They were arguing about pronouns. You know all the stuff that we see today and that we you know we tend to we often blame on Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey happened in the very first social media website and to me that just shows you know what is twitter it’s status games you bring people together you connect them into communities they start competing for status. We’ll stall look up the show thanks Chris we’re good to be here dude. I loved your book.

It Is Awesome Thank You Thats Really Good

to hear thanks Chris you nailed it man so you did all this research about status throughout all of that what were some of the weirdest status games that you found um I I think the one that that I I always go. Back to is the Yams Yeah Yeah! In 1948 This anthropologist went to this tiny island in Micronesia, out called Pompei and and there um They had this they had this kind of thing where you know it’s very stratified in Pompei life there like it is everywhere you know, but it’s quite hard to break through to the upper levels of Pompeii society but you could do it one way and that one way is by growing a massive yam and they would have these feasts. These chiefly feasts and the person who brought the biggest dam was declared number one literally that’s what they called him number one and and Yeah, and he you know he would there would be you know raised in status and you know what happened. The inevitable consequence of that was that the men of Pompei just became obsessed with. growing the biggest yams and they they sneak out their homes at two in the morning and you know they’d grow their yams in secret.

You Know Parts Of The Forest To Cover

them with branches and we could see the yams and tens of them with fertilizer um and yeah and you know in human ingenuity and the human craving for status being what it is. They grew massive yams Yam’s so big that it would take 12 men to carry them into the feces. A special stretcher on poles. You know so so that’s that’s that’s that’s status madness it and you know as our cat. In the book we can direct our craving for status at anything and we do and a yam is among those that we can use yeah yeah.

What Is It Is It Like A

sweet potato, what the bleep a yam well. It’s kind of a tuber, but I don’t know I don’t actually know what it is one sexy thing to use for I’d rather get the Ferrari. If that’s not yes exactly you can’t write I can’t ride down the street Yeah it seems more fun but yeah Yeah assuming you know this is how the status game works you know we can use anything as a symbol of status and it could be a giant Yam it can be yeah a Ferrari. It can be a lovely watch it can be um how great an activist we are you know well. The reason that that example’s so funny is that we look at it and think oh Yams how ridiculous but that objectively there’s nothing any more or less ridiculous of a yam versus a Ferrari or versus being the best social justice warrior Yeah exactly or you know.

That You Know You Know The Classic Example

is watches You can buy a casio watch for you know bleep AtP on EBay or you can spend 2.4 million dollars on on on a watch and it’s they’re just telling you the time I mean and that 2. 4 million dollar watch is just as stupid as a giant Yam can’t even eat the ferrari exactly the ferrari. So you say that status is more important than sex power or money. Why is that well.

Im Not Saying Its More Important.

I’m saying that you know we have lots of you know different drives, but I think status is is one of the one of the most fundamental ones. I wouldn’t say it’s more fundamental than sex um that that’s really is a basic but um you know it goes back to our evolution. You know as I’m sure you know. we’re apes we’re a kind of weird kind of ape that has kind of mastered the art of cooperative living and so um that’s what we do we we you know that’s how we’ve solved the Darwinian problem of survival and reproduction We we gather into coalitions so we you know we we have this um urge for connection and to be accepted and to feel you know belongingness.

You Know Thats A Really

important one but once once we’ve connected in we there’s always this urge to move up. We’re not typically content to be thought of as likable but useless you know he’s a nice guy, but he’s just bleep rubbish. You know that’s not what we you know that’s that’s not human nature. We want to rise we want to we we want to sort of move up and you know back in that you. know in in in the kind of hunter-gatherer days when our brains are doing much of their evolution.

It Was The Case That The

more status we earned um the better food. We got the more food. We got the more safe the safer our sleeping sites. The greater our choices have mate so when you think about that in terms of survival and reproduction, the more status. We have the better our capacity to survive and reproduce.

So Thats A Very Basic Idea That

your brain understands completely go for status because if you go to status you’re going to get that sex you’re going to get that power you’re going to get that yam you’re going to get that ferrari you know the but the but the basic is is well in connection first, but then once you’ve connected once you’ve connected in with this coalition of like-minded. You try and rise and and when you kind of take a step back that is human existence that is human thriving those groups take the forms of political coalitions. You know businesses, hobby groups, cults religions you know it’s that’s just what we do as humans that’s that’s what that’s that’s that that is the basis of human behavior. We gather into groups and we connect into you know we connect into groups and we strive for status individually in those groups. You know we compete for status with other people, but those groups then compete with status with other groups.

So The Status Game Is Constantly Working On

those two dimensions you know internally and right versus rivals. How do you define it defines state status yeah yeah it’s it’s esteem being thought of as valuable useful you know it’s not just oh you know. Connection and belongingness which which people talk a lot about you know is about you know yeah you just feeling loved. I suppose um as you might love a family member or a kind of romantic partner or you know somebody that you but but the status is about admiration you know respect um Yeah you know feeling feeling somewhat above you know that’s what that’s what we like to think that that’s how we like to think of ourselves and our groups is it like a an existential currency that our brain sort of keeps track of yeah. I mean in the book I describe it as the original currency you know before that you know we haven’t evolved to crave money you know money wasn’t around when our brains were doing all that evolution we’ve evolved to create status and money is just one way that we’ve.

Its A Yam.

You know it’s the one way that we’ve um what one way that we that we count codified status yeah yeah. It’s another way that we play the status game. You you can use power as a as a status symbol and people do but some people aren’t interested in power. Some people aren’t interested in money money is obviously very useful beyond its purposes as a status symbol but but but that’s essentially you know what it is.

Its A Kind Of Way Of

playing the status game that absolutely directly gets you you know better resources and and it enables your survival and reproduction. You know it accelerates your capacity to survive and reproduce. What are the main ways that people can attain status. So there are lots of sort of basic ways. You know youth beauty age you know but but both youth and age are ways to get.

When You Get Between 35 And 50,

you’re bleep and then on the other side you’re all right Yeah Yeah yeah, you know like like in the book, I think I sort of slightly could sort of glibly say that but you know by the hotel pool youth wins, but when you’re trying to get a seat on the train, you know age wins so it depends on the context um so so Yeah you know it’s so traditionally of course age would always win, but now in our kind of youth obsessed culture it’s it it’s less so but but the the the basic ways that you know the more interesting ways are the ways we’ve evolved so firstly it’s dominance you know dominance is is the most basic animalistic way. That we get status and dominance is about violence, the threat of violence, the threat of punishment and so that could be you know physical violence or reputation destruction or ostracization so dominance is you know not you know unfortunately, you know a part of our human nature and has been since before we were humans. Dominance is is typically a much more kind of animalistic way. You know hens peck at each other until their packing order is established and that’s how they play their status game , but but we know humans When we kind of settle down. You know we um developed um these new ways of playing status games .

You Know Some Animals Do Play Games With

um reputation too it’s thought interestingly um but but we are kind of really mastered the art of playing status games with reputation by earning prestige and fundamentally. It’s about showing yourself to be useful to your group to your tribe and there are two ways you can be useful to your tribe. One is our being virtuous so courageous generous but also um. You know a good for a conformist, good follower of rules and a good person in a person who punishes rule breakers. You know that’s part of being virtuous and the other way is by being successful being skillful by you know being the best honey finder, the best hunter, the best grower of Yams.

You Know So So Those Are The

three kind of essential ways that we um play status games dominance virtue and success and if you think about um those three different routes to status they kind of define kind the kinds of status games that we we play so you know boxing is a dominance game. It’s about violence and it’s about it’s about who’s the who’s the most um you know dominant individual. A religion or a role for a royal family is a virtue game. It’s about deference obedience following the rules.

  • status weirdest status games
  • island micronesia called pompei
  • obsessed culture basic
  • 1986 council culture arguing pronouns
  • yams yeah yeah 1948 anthropologist


In Pompei, the men of Pompei grew massive yams so big that it would take 12 men to carry them . The person who brought the biggest dam was declared number one literally that’s what they called him number one and and Yeah, and he you know he would there would be you know raised in status and you know what happened. The inevitable consequence of that was that the men became obsessed with. growing the biggest yams and they they sneak out their homes at two in the morning and . you know they’d grow their yams in secret. They would cover them with branches and we could see the yams with fertilizer um and yeah, and yeah and in human ingenuity and the human craving for status being what it is. The show is coming up with a new book about status games. We’ll stall look up the show on tonight at 8pm on . Back to Mail Online. Back to the page you can read it….. Click here to read more and watch the full video