Omega Males, David Brooks, and the Importance of Glamour

Slate recently ran a story about men they called “Omega males.” Definitely not Alpha, not quite Beta.  Essentially, this class of men is drifting through their post-college and thirtysomething years, not making much of themselves, struggling to find love, and making little dent on the world. This kind of guy seems to have proliferated in the current day, and that is a problem, even for mainstream cultural commentators.

Here’s a snatch from the piece:

In the social hierarchy of a wolf pack in captivity, the omega ranks below the alpha and beta wolves. In human terms, if an executive or a warrior is an alpha male and a nice-guy middle manager like The Office‘s Jim Halpert is a beta male, then Greenberg and his brethren are omega males. While the alpha male wants to dominate and the beta male just wants to get by, the omega male has either opted out or, if he used to try, given up. Greenberg says of his somewhat stunted best friend, “We call each other ‘man,’ but it’s a joke. It’s like imitating other people.” The omega male is not experiencing the tired trope of the midlife crisis. A midlife crisis implies agency, a man who has the job and the family and chooses to reject it. The omega male doesn’t have the power to reject anything—he’s the one who has been brushed off.


David Brooks weighs in on the recent legislation on health-care:

[W]atching all this, I feel again why I’m no longer spiritually attached to the Democratic Party. The essence of America is energy — the vibrancy of the market, the mobility of the people and the disruptive creativity of the entrepreneurs. This vibrancy grew up accidentally, out of a cocktail of religious fervor and material abundance, but it was nurtured by choice. It was nurtured by our founders, who created national capital markets to disrupt the ossifying grip of the agricultural landholders. It was nurtured by 19th-century Republicans who built the railroads and the land-grant colleges to weave free markets across great distances. It was nurtured by Progressives who broke the stultifying grip of the trusts.


Have you heard of the MacDowell Colony?  It’s some kind of ridiculously cool artist’s retreat paradise.  Writers, musicians, artists and other creative types stay for a spell and pump out masterpieces.  In the words of Tina Fey: “I want to go to there.”


We need to think about glamour. Here’s why.


A deeply inspiring worship song.  We need more Revelation-inspired worship songs.  The language cannot be beat.

(Image from Greenberg)

  • Steve

    I am fascinated by the idea that there is a category of people who are shooting for less than “just trying to get by”.