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The shamelessness strategy

You know how some people are extremely cocky in social situations? What if that would be a valuable tactic beyond the 'showing dominance' obvious advantage?

This is a very interesting post:

I’ve enjoyed playing a game called Avalon recently. I won’t go too far into the rules, but it’s a hidden role game in the vein of Secret Hitler or Werewolf, where one team is “good”, trying to uncover who among them is “evil”, before the evil team wins.

One of the characters you can play is Merlin. Merlin knows who the evil players are, but can’t reveal what he knows, because the evil team can kill Merlin and win the game. So Merlin relies on another character, Percival, to be his decoy.

Percival’s only power is that he knows who Merlin is. So he secretly watches Merlin’s actions throughout the game and amplifies those signals to the rest of the group. The typical strategy is for Percival to attract attention away from Merlin and towards himself.

But another, riskier strategy is for Merlin to play as though he is Percival. In this case, Merlin displays what he knows so shamelessly that he throws everyone off. The evil team, believing that no Merlin would be stupid enough to put himself out there like that, figures he must be Percival, and writes him off.

The Merlin-as-Percival strategy is bold, because it blatantly defies our expectations about how the game is won. To pull it off, Merlin must create confusion around his actions. He needs the other players to feel unsure about whether he’s being incredibly stupid or incredibly smart.

Increasingly, I think the “shameless” approach is becoming a dominant strategy today. It was first popularized in modern canon by Paris Hilton, who played the “dumb blonde heiress” stereotype so smoothly that everyone assumed she really was as stupid as she seemed.

People on LinkedIn try to 'conform', look good 'on paper', and do thinks 'to impress a mythical potential employer. What if that's signaling something not conductive to attracting the best employers?

Have you tried 'being who you are' instead of conforming and comparing the results to conforming? Would love to read your experiences, as anyone in these forums is doing something very non-mainstream like 'thinking about power' (scary, scummy to some, certainly not conforming). And you probably hide that part of you. Perhaps it's not a good idea?

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This is a good and deep question.

How about a more positive name?

Names are frames.

Both for ourselves, and for how we present our ideas.

"Shameless" properly covers some of what's needed in this approach. But it has a "negative" connotation in people's minds.

I think we may call this approach in equally descriptive ways, but that give it a more (well-deserved) positive spin:

  • The 100% genuine approach
  • The fully congruent approach
  • The radical honesty approach

Or we might touch on how this approach needs one to both understand, own to oneself, and then publicly own his dark side:

  • The fully integrated approach

Some quick notes:

It's a spectrum (and you don't need 100%)

To begin with, I think this is on a spectrum.

So one must not necessarily go 100% "full honest, all the times".

But, already at 50%, you're probably pretty damn honest, integrated, and impressive (or shocking) to the majority who are at around 1%.

There's a strategic element to it: it won't work well for some professions / life stations

First off, you need to reach a certain level at life before you can go for this strategy.

Such as, it requires some personal power, both mentally, and in terms of "what you can get away with" without paying consequences you can ill-afford to pay.

Also, some professions make it close to impossible to reach very high levels of full shamelessness.

Think of Trump for example.

He was considered the most shockingly "in your face", shameless politician.
And yet, can you imagine him taking the ultimate step to full honesty and say:

I want to be president because I want power just like any other candidate.
Even more than them though, I happen to be born a malignant narcissist, potentially sociopath who, more than others, craves power, fame, and adulation and I find pleasure in the destruction of his (many) enemies.

Had he done that, he wouldn't have gotten as far as he did.

So his "truths" and "dark side" displays were still strategic -it not outright manipulative-.

On the other hand, some people can afford the luxury of being far more honest than others.
Outside of politics for example, Jordan Peterson is pretty damn honest about his darker drives.

Some people can afford it more than others (not everyone's the same)

Some people can be far more open than others.

If someone has had the bad luck of being genetically cursed with an attraction for children... There aren't many ways he can be honest about that without turning into public enemy #1.
Pedophiles, even if only just in attraction and not deeds, are not one of those categories that it's tough to spin and get even a modicum of support and understanding (albeit even that, I can think of some ways to increase awareness of the curse without turning into public enemy #1).

On the other hand, many other folks with more "normal" dark sides such as will to power, money, sexual conquests, fame, or "forever legacy" can be far more honest about theirs.

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That being said:

Increasing honesty is a great approach

Personally, I'm a fan of this approach.

Even in PU there is a note that increasing honesty with oneself and with others does great things for your mental empowerment as well as for your (social) success.

Not 100% all the times, mind you, naive 100% honesty at all times might as well be a recipe for disaster.

But moving towards greater honesty/shamelessness, with yourself first and the world right after, is a solid approach.

First off, it can have personal benefits, as it tends to increase personal confidence and self-esteem (albeit Machiavellians might not need that).
Plus, it outwardly shows emotional maturity, courage, personal confidence, and even (social) power.

On this subject, I'm planning to have a parallel website with my own name where sometimes I'll drop some non-PC reflections that would be a bit too off-topic for TPM.

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Some more thinking about this angle.

One series I liked when I started PU was 'succession'. It's about a mega-evil corporation and everyone in the series is a class-A sociopath. The fact that they are family doesn't prevent them from backstabbing each other constantly, and they kinda compete to see who is the biggest son-of-a-bitch, which will gain the title of CEO of the company as the father is retiring.

One of the players is Roman.

He's pretty fucked up. "he struggles to actually engage in sexual activity with another person. While the reason behind this is unknown, he is shown to be aroused being verbally humiliated and uses this as a means of sexual gratification."

But instead of hiding this, he's the character with the most bravado and charisma. Everyone knows this about him, so they cannot use it as a weapon to blackmail him. He's extremely talented at befriending people (mostly billionaires) and closing deals that are impossible to most. He also seems to be the most ruthless character and that's something his father values in him.

Having extreme self confidence in spite of being extremely flawed is hard. And he does it so well.

I'm guessing most people here don't talk openly about studying power. We hide it because we think we will pay a 'too high' social price, we would become pariahs. But these extreme characters show a possibility: you can own it.

Not to say that Roman is an example to follow, of course. He's a piece of shit even by the standards of the other family members (who are all sociopaths). I hope this is clear 🙂

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