If you listened to the FoB Theater track for ALIENS, you might have noticed Beli and Nate mention "archetypes we discussed the other day" and wonder what we were talking about. Long story short, we had gotten into a rather lengthy discussion amongst friends about what a true Alpha-male (or later in the conversation just an "alpha") really amounted to. We came to the conclusion among the group that there was a mountain of bullshit and misinformation about what an Alpha really was. Logical fallacies had grown up around the idea of it being only strength (might makes right) that didn't really define leadership qualities and that there was a great deal of "Fake Alphas" (or Echoes) that were giving true Alphas a bad name.
Admittedly, there was a lot of frustration about the bandying about of terms like "toxic masculinity" or the growth of a passive society that irked our circle. We understood negative behaviors were harmful, but that there was not a damn thing wrong with assertive healthy behaviors. Divisive discussions where folks boiled down things to "Aggression bad! Men bad!" were irritating and short-sighted, yet the complaints of "sexist, racist, fill-in-the-ist behaviors" were valid (where an actual offense truly occurred). And keep in mind the group discussion contained more than just straight males.
So, the meathead thinktank realized we were dealing with far more than traditional Alphas and Betas, but rather Gammas and Echoes. It was a spectrum of behaviors spanning not only assertive (or aggressive) or passive behaviors, but balanced against positive and negative behaviors/traits. Sure, this may sound complicated or "too durn edjumakated" but bear with us. We'll use pictures and examples to bring it to whatever your level is (stay back Barney).
Before we get to the meat of identifying the behaviors of the spectrum, you also need to understand that no one ever sits exactly in one well defined bracket. Nor do they always stay there. Nor is someone the same thing to everyone they interact with. We all have the potential to slide up and down the scale throughout our lives and not always see it in ourselves when and where we fail and can improve. Being an Alpha or Beta isn't necessarily bad, a strong society needs both. Being an Echo is a problem, especially when you can't see it for yourself. Being an Echo leads to bullying, abuse, social distress and other problems. Being a Gamma leads to victimhood, abuse, and problems.
I could be an Alpha, Echo or Beta in your eyes, yet something different to someone else. In the end, you have to honestly assess yourself and make that determination and either improve, regress, or stagnate.
Alphas (Leaders; Positively Assertive)
So, what makes a true Alpha? (we need to understand this before we move on to the fake ones) Alphas are leaders, organizers. The real ones are charitable but not boastful, powerful but not demanding, suave but humble, educated but always learning/listening. The kind hand that will become the fist when required. Real alphas don't start fights, but the will end them. They are almost subdued about it to the point where they seem passive in their own power. Every Alpha did their time as a Beta. In the words of Jeor Mormont: "You want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow." They earned what power they have, they didn't steal it, force it, or manipulate it.
Betas (Followers; Positively Passive)
Being a Beta isn't a negative thing. This is a massive misconception and confusion with Gammas. Leave it to people to not research anything further than A vs B and assume they understand the actual picture (look up the real meaning behind "blood is thicker than water" you're mind will be blown by how often it's used incorrectly). A Beta is a follower. That's it. It doesn't mean weak, it means you're following an Alpha. Military example: The Regimental Commanding Officer (CO) (typically a Colonel) is the Alpha in relation to the rest of the Regiment, but they're Beta to the Division Commanding General. Take it down another tier to the Battalion CO (a LtCol); Alpha to the Battalion, Beta to the Regimental CO. Don't go telling your BN CO he's a Beta tho… likely they just have the standard misunderstanding of the A vs B.
Echoes (the Fake Alphas; Negatively Assertive)
An Echo has a fake sense of self-importance and dominance where it's not naturally earned through anything other than ignorance and overpowering will. They feel the need to force others to their way rather than earn it. They push those they see as weaker around. They don't understand the ability to compromise or sacrifice for the health of the greater unit, but rather amass power and false "respect" for themselves at the cost of others. It's a warped and twisted view of being an Alpha that has unfortunately been propagated. You could never convince an Echo they are, it's in their nature to deny flaws, they have to discover it on their own and grow out of it. Alphas can regress into Echoes and hopefully grow out of it again as well. Alphas evolve from Betas. We all exists along a continuum and grow and change.
Gammas (the Weak; Negatively Passive)
Echoes thrive off Gammas. It’s the abuser, abused relationship. These are the members of society who by circumstance or choice are passive to the point of letting people tread upon them. It’s the job of the Alphas and Betas to help elevate the Gammas, build their confidence and help them seek self-improvement for the health of the tribe.
We all probably strive to be Apex Alphas; like James Mattis, Idris Ilba, Keanu Reeves, Betty White, Joan of Arc, Morgan Freeman, Jonny Kim, etc. The Honey Badgers of the Alpha set who are just better people than many of us could ever hope to be.