An observant reader sent this in:
Gamma vs Would-Be Alpha
I was front row center to an interesting exchange between a drunk gamma and a beta-who-thinks-he's-alpha. Up until this point, the two had been close friends, as near as I could tell.
Gamma: a Bernie-loving hipster, complete with problem glasses. Every girl I've met who knows him has commented on how unattractive and off-putting he is: classic Gamma indicators.
Beta: a narcissist who confuses being abrasive with being Alpha.
The Gamma comes in fresh from the bar. He sees the beta sitting with an average woman, solid 5.5.
G: "Some of these people are regulars, you know."
This sets up the assaults that are to come. All of the people that will be referenced are people that come in regularly, with whom I've had exchanges. The implied insult is that Gamma might be able to blacklist Beta from the venue, despite absolute lack of any such power. The Beta knows where this is going and hopes to head it off at the pass.
B: "Dude, you know me. I don't give a fuck. Whatever."
G: "(Lesbian) hates you. You've been totally impolite to her and that's not cool. There are other people, you know, and you have to treat them with respect."
B: "I never did anything like that."
The white knighting begins. It's true that the lesbian in question absolutely hates Beta's guts. From my perspective, it seems more a hypergamous gut reaction than anything based on merit. Therefore, it's not necessary for him to have done anything in particular, she just hates him because of who he is.
G: "Yes, you did. Just last week you were very rude to her."
B: "I didn't say anything to her."
G: "Okay, well, she hates you. And it's not just her. You call <someone> Brain Damaged <someone's name>. You think that's funny? You think calling someone brain damaged is funny?"
B: "That's just a nickname. He thinks it's funny. I've known him way longer than you have, dude!"
G: "He has never said that it's funny."
B: "We talked about this before I even started calling him that!"
G: "Well, he doesn't think it's funny."
Here we start to see the more extreme Gamma aspects of our Gamma friend. Before we could write him off as a loser white-knighting for milady, but now he's defending the honor of all mentally handicapped people everywhere. Notice how he shifts the accusation from "he never said it was funny" to "he doesn't think it's funny." My gut tells me that being called Brain Damaged doesn't make the guy particularly happy, and Beta probably overuses the insult, but I doubt it's anywhere near the problem that Gamma is making it out to be.
G: "You're mean to everyone. You said I was stupid and worthless and needed to die."
B: "I NEVER SAID ANY OF THAT."
G: "You did. Two nights ago, you called me uninformed, you called me jobless, you said I didn't know anything because I'm not in the job market right now..."
B: "I DID NOT. I PROBABLY SAID SOMETHING LIKE THAT ABOUT OBAMA."
G: "You did, too. You said that I was stupid and worthless."
B: "I DID NOT!"
G: "Well, that's what I heard."
I saw these two hanging out yesterday, mind you. The Gamma must have let his rage build up for some time, playing the friend until alcohol made him stupid. Note the direction this is taking. Gamma accuses Beta of insults that he imagined or read into the conversation, not the ones Beta actually used. This is the real heart of the exchange: Gamma was offended by Beta in some way. However, Gamma didn't have the stones to stand up for himself, so he used surrogates in order to vent his own frustrations.
B: "FUCK OFF. JUST FUCK OFF. GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE."
G: "You did say all of that. Yes you did."
B: "FUCK OFF. SERIOUSLY, DUDE. JUST FUCK OFF SOMEWHERE ELSE."
G: "I'm just saying..."
B: "NO. SHUT UP AND FUCK OFF."
And there it is. The Beta has rejected the Gamma's assault, but the damage is done: his self-esteem is shaken and he's violently angry. It took Gamma a minute to realize that he'd gone a bit too far, as Beta was getting out of his chair and ready to start an actual fight, which Gamma could never hope to win.
Gamma walked away with that smug "I'm right, I won, whatever" attitude that they tend to develop whenever they get a rise.
Miss 5.5 didn't like the anger in Beta. She said something along the lines of "I'm gonna move. I don't like confrontation", then proceeded to go and talk to the Gamma.
Beta protests angrily, telling her to sit down, but all for naught, and is left seething in his seat until he storms off.
The first thing I noticed is how the girl sided with the Gamma when the Beta got aggressive. Because the Beta rose to anger at the frankly vapid assault from the Gamma, he unwittingly ceded the power in their exchange entirely to the Gamma, whose sole purpose was to trigger the angry response from him.
Second, notice how the Gamma framed the exchange as an assault primarily from non-present individuals. This is the same tactic the likes of Scalzi and Sarkeesian will employ - "Of course it's silly, but other people could have really been hurt by [fill-in-the-blank]. It sounds much less petty to stand up for others than to admit that you're the one butthurt.
Third, note how close Beta is to an actual Alpha stance. He's aggressive and wants to control the exchange, but he lacks all skills required to do so.
Finally, think about how easily this could have been blown off, were Beta an actual Alpha: "You're drunk, Gamma. We'll talk about this tomorrow."