Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Dystopia, Musings, Philosophy sans Sophistry, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > The Insignificance of the ‘Loser’ Label in Atomized Societies

The Insignificance of the ‘Loser’ Label in Atomized Societies

One of the favorite recreational activities of human beings seems to involve labeling other people as ‘winners’ or ‘losers’ according to some external standards. While I have many theories about why people indulge in this particular zero-sum behavior and what it says about the human ‘mind’- those issues are best discussed in another post. In this one, I will look at another aspect of the ‘loser’ label.

Does the ‘loser’ label carry any weight or significance in mobile, highly atomized and technological societies- especially ones with a visibly crumbling social contract?

So let us first briefly talk about why people like to label some others as ‘losers’. The funny thing about such labels is that they have nothing to do with any objective reality. The reasons behind such labels have far more to do with attempts to dominate and destroy the lives of others. The next logical question is- does such labeling work? The answer is context sensitive and requires us to first consider the nature and technological level of the society as well as its degree of functionality. Societies that are tribal, inward looking and in which individuals have low geographical mobility are ideal settings for the ‘loser’ label. In such societies, there is a strong incentive to avoid the ‘loser’ label- even if the society is falling apart.

Now lets us turn our attention to societies with an industrial-revolution level of technology, decent but not great geographical mobility and some level of comprehension that their “reality” is not the only game in town. In such societies, the ‘loser’ label is significantly less effective at hurting a person as they can always move around and reinvent themselves or go to cities with a pre-existing population of similar minded people. As we move further up that road into societies as they exist in many, if not all, developed countries today- something even more peculiar occurs. The ‘loser’ label becomes close to worthless and may end up hurting the labeller than the labeled. But why? How does a strategy that was effective for tens of thousands of years suddenly become worthless? The answer lies in the changing nature of social interactions between an individual and the rest of society.

For most of human history- people lived, worked and interacted with others they had known for years or decades. They really did not have any other option. That is why things like reputation and perception by others around them mattered. This pattern of dependence on those in your physical vicinity and low geographical mobility started changing as the industrial revolution progressed. However most of your interactions were still with people in your immediate vicinity albeit in a place more to your liking.

A series of social changes within the last 30 years which created very high levels of social atomization and the spread of ubiquitous internet access have pushed things to another level.

Today trusting those who in previous eras could be expected to help you is a bad idea. The vast majority of people rightly don’t trust their parents, children, relatives, friends, employers, various social institutions and society itself to do anything close to the ‘right’ thing. Consequently, people prefer to spend a lot of time by themselves. It simply isn’t worth associating with people who are worse than useless in ‘real’ life. We also spend a lot of time online and can easily find people and communities of like-minded individuals who are far more entertaining to interact with- if still largely useless. But even that is changing and it now appears that online and often anonymous acquaintances are often more useful than those in your physical vicinity.

This ubiquitous communication-based mobility destroys the need for most personal interaction to a level that most people still cannot fathom. Today you can lead an OK life with very minimal inter-personal interactions. Apart from a few fake interactions for work-related purposes, getting some pussy and pretending to be “normal” etc- you can pretty much give up on ‘real’ life relationships without any adverse effects on your life. Indeed, the converse is true as it is no longer necessary to spend your waking hours thinking about what those useless morons around you are thinking, or not thinking. The best part is that you can often do that without having to move to your dream city or neighborhood.

It is now very easy to unplug from a dysfunctional society without any significant negative consequences.

The power of the ‘loser’ label was always directly proportional to how much you needed, or had to interact with, the people around you. A combination of social trends and technological possibilities have reduced the necessity to put oneself in that position. It follows that people will increasingly shun ‘real’ life interactions with useless morons in dysfunctional and deteriorating societies.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. EvilOne
    April 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    How I wish I was born 10-15 years later than I was.

  2. April 5, 2013 at 10:21 pm

    that’s probably a big part of why Roosh and his doosh crew are so obsessed with who is beta and omega, Chuck Crudd with HDB, and David Fatrelle with Nice Guys ™…

    it’s all just trying to establish a pecking order and the sub-par enforce it the hardest…

  3. April 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm

    Reblogged this on oogenhand and commented:
    Guaranteed Minimum Income. Again, a powerful piece.

  4. April 6, 2013 at 1:10 am

    In a more collectivist and honor-shamed based society does “loser” have any weight.

    • P Ray
      April 6, 2013 at 5:46 am

      So do false accusations.
      There are advantages and disadvantages to any situation.

  5. anon666
    April 13, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I view status competition as one of the prime motivators of human behavior. This is no less the case now than before, but as you point out, it is far easier to drop out of any given status hierarchy and join a new one. There are a thousand different subcultures that apply a thousand different metrics to gauge status, many of which are quite arbitrary. If you don’t have a taste for traditional status metrics (careerism, family formation, etc), you can become the most valuable player in your World of Warcraft guild or an esteemed intellectual in a subculture that promotes a utopian ideology. One can even attempt avoid status competition all together by becoming a semi-recluse. However doing the latter can constitute its own status in one’s mind: “Look at all these saps who are stressing themselves out in a perpetual contest of one-upsmanship! These losers are sacrificing their own happiness, all in the name of impressing people who don’t even care about them that much! I’m sure glad I’m enlightened enough to steer clear of such a futile contest. My life is so much more stress-free, and I’m better of because of it.” Sounds kind of like you, AD, and kind of like me too, I must admit. I’m sure you also derive a sense of status in your own mind by publishing insights on your blog, which you believe supporters of most traditional ideologies to be oblivious to. We don’t seem capable of dropping out of the game.

  6. May 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Oh, I agree with what you say. In today’s ever-increasing and mobilized society, one can escape the “loser” label relatively easily, provided that you can deprogram yourself adequately where it doesn’t affect you. Easier said than done for those of us, like me, who spent their formative years pre-Internet. Still, it can be done.

    On the flip side, there are many of us who can’t stand the thought of being alone.

  1. October 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm

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