Social Climbing Is Killing Your Social Status

social climber walking upward on people's head

We talked about social climbing on this website:

But in this post, we are going to dig deeper.

I am going to show you how social climbers act and why they most often end up harming their own social status.

The harder you try to climb, the try harder you look

Social Climbers

Social climbing is what every driven people does.

Social climbing per se is not bad.

High-quality men and high-quality women all seek to increase their social status.
And that’s a good thing. It’s what makes them high-value in the first place.

However, when we talk about “social climbing”, we usually refer to the negative form of social climbing.
What we refer to, is “value-taking social climbing”.

We define value-taking social climbers as follows:

Social climbers seek to raise their social status not by virtue of their qualities or by helping others out but by attacking, ridiculing, and generally by depressing other people’s statuses.

The Power Moves

Social climbers can attack people who are present, as frenemies sometimes do, or people who aren’t even there as we saw in social climbing in absentia.

At the core, social climbers do one thing: push people down to raise themselves up.

Let’s review some of the nastiest ways

1. Fake Complainers

Fake complainers exaggerate or outright invent problems.

However, their problems are never “neutral”, but are designed to make themselves look good by making others look bad of course.

They complain of people asking them for money, younger guns seeking them as mentors, men or women hitting on them all the times, etc.

Here is one example:

That wasn’t great acting but it’s enough to see what I mean

Now that example is a bit theatrical for emphasis of course, but that’s the gist behind fake complainers: pretend others are seeking you -and bothering you as they pursue- for some great quality of yours.

Among the fake complainers, we often see drama queens, highly emotional individuals, and borderline personality disorders.

Why Fake Complainers Fail

Most people don’t rationally grasp what the social climber is doing, but most people will still instinctively dislike them.
Or, in the best-case scenario, they will instinctively know that they are not the highest quality people.
And that’s because social climbers are rarely at the top, but almost always struggling for the middle-of-the-road social slots.

2. The Posturing Guys

Now here is another gem of social climbing tech.

The technique of the posturing guy is to finger at an imaginary straw-man enemy and accentuate his flaw and shortcoming and laugh.
The idea in the social climber’s mind is that by criticizing someone people will think that he must be the opposite.

In principle the idea is not completely wrong: studies indeed show that critical reviewers are perceived as more intelligent than positive reviewers. And usually, people criticize those who are very different from them, thus the idea of “by making someone look like shit, people think I’m golden”.

However, it doesn’t really work like that in practice.
One of the main issues is that social climbers are often too obvious about their hidden agenda. We talked about in Alpha Male Posturing, and here was an example from that article:

reddit alpha male posturing
“I’m saying he’s “beta male“, so you can infer that I’m alpha. Oh, P.S. I’ve never even seen the guy I’m ridiculing”.

Why Fake Complainers Fail

Some postures are smoother and their game will work with people who are not very socially smart.

But in the presence of high-quality men high-quality women social climbing, falls flat.

At the end of the day, this is why posturing guys always fail:

Nastiness qualifies the sender much more than it qualifies the receiver.

The Power Move

3. The Sarcastic Player

The sarcastic player increases his social status by looking smart… While he makes you look stupid.

You ask a normal, straightforward question and they reply with a joke at your expense. You make a comment about politics and they sigh “oh well, I suppose universal suffrage wasn’t the best idea after all”.

Here is an example of a sarcastic player doing his best to make his opponent look stupid -and smart by reflection-:

Why Sarcastic Players Fail

Sarcastic players might be the hardest to spot. Indeed, as long as they don’t exaggerate, most people consider them high-quality, smart guys who can quickly think on their feet.

Obama indeed was another sarcastic social climber player and he often got applauded for it.
Here is one example:

The irony of the sentence masks the huge show-off behind it

However, albeit it will win the nod of approval of most people, the creme de la creme of the most socially attuned ones will still see it for what it is: a crack in the wall from which obvious signs of egotism and insecurity are seeping through.
And a stinking sense of superiority.

4. The Aggressively Superior Player

The aggressively superior player is similar to the sarcastic one, but he is more direct and more “in your face” about it.

I had one such example just yesterday.
Here is how it went:

Friendly guy: “what are your goals for 2019
Me: “bla bla bla”

Now the social climbers started hovering around the group, and to be warm and inclusive I make space and then pass the question back to him.

Look how it went:

Me: “And what about you, what are your goals for 2019

Social Climber: Why, what’s so special about 2019


See what his game is?
He is angling to show off that new year’s resolutions are “beneath him”. Which might be, I also think most people do new year’s resolutions for all the wrong reasons.
But that approach is still wrong: it’s trying to make me look bad and decrease my social status to make him look good and gain social status.

Now most people here would have gone on the defensive, which would have given him indeed a chance of winning and scoring social points.
Oh well, not that night and not with me, I suppose:

Social Climber: Why, what’s so special about 2019
Me: “It’s a new year

Said slowly, with the intonation of “It’s… A new year… You dumbass”
And then proceeded to hold my frame it’s normal and “good” to make the new year’s goal which thwarted his weak attempt at social status climbing.

This is the tonality, facial expression, and attitude I am talking about:

Why Aggressively Superior Players Fail

Superior players are some of the worst.
Not only do they look aggressive and daft to everyone in earshot, but they also make enemies.

And the golden rule of social power is that you want friends, not enemies.

Why Social Climbing Decreases Social Status

When we scramble to social climb and we push people down, we communicate the following:

  • We are likely far from the top or we wouldn’t be climbing
  • We feel insecure or we wouldn’t need to push others down
  • We need ego boosting because we are low in self-esteem

As you can see, social climbing sends the message that we are low-status and, in the long run, it’s one of the biggest hurdles towards becoming a genuinely high-value individual, be it a top-quality man or a high-flying woman.

If that weren’t enough, it makes you look rancorous, spiteful, and nasty. And if you don’t change it, it makes sure that you stay that way.

Social Climbing Works in Low-Quality Environments…

However, I wouldn’t be doing a proper job if I didn’t explain that these types of social climbing do work in a few environments.
And that’s why people keep engaging in the behaviors we’ve just described.

Social climbing might even look impressive to some people. But only to the people who are at the bottom of the pyramid.

Just think about it: if you are vying for some above-average position, how does it look to below-average people?
Kind powerful. But to higher than average people? It looks like you’re scrambling for scraps.

In animal terms, a cat posturing as a tiger looks awesomely powerful to a mouse.
But not so much to the other cooler cats in his neighborhood.

Hence, if your aim is slightly above average, happy social climbing.
But if you aim high, then drop the climbing sh*t.

And that’s the essence of it: social climbing “works” in mediocre environments, among mediocre people, vying for middle layers of the social pyramid.

High-quality individuals with high self-esteem being at the top and needing no ego boost, have no incentive to push others down.
Pushing others down is inherently low quality and only suggests potential insecurities.


We all have within us, and men especially so, the tendency to engage in social climbing.

However, that it’s “normal” does not mean that it’s good.
And in its nastiest forms, social climbs entail pushing others down as we try to rise up.

To become truly high-quality individuals and to reach our full potential we need to read ourselves of all of our social climbing tendencies.
Because this is the rule of social climb:

You social climb your status to the middle, never to the top.

The Power Moves

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