We are, in the twenty-first century, as we’ve always been: great apes hunting connection and status inside shared hallucinations.
Human natureHuman nature
No matter what we do, and how dishonestly we play, the brain nudges us to conclude we’re ultimately a better person than most.
If our need for status is fundamental, this discomfort we feel about admitting it may seem surprising. But we tend to believe the brain’s heroic story, not the subconscious realpolitik of the game. To admit to being motivated by improving our rank risks making others think less of us, which loses us rank. Even admitting it to ourselves can make us feel reduced. So our awareness of our desire for status eats itself. We readily recognise it in rivals and even use it as a method of insult – which, ironically, is status play: an attempt to downgrade others and thereby raise ourselves up.