- Education and Science»
- Sociology & Anthropology
The Winner Takes All Culture
The PRESSURE to be NUMBER 1
Winners are IMMENSELY Rewarded
Winners Have THAT Sense of POWER
The DARK SIDE of Wanting to be Number 1
Winners are EXTREMELY Charismatic, Especially to the Opposite Gender
YOU'VE Got To Win, To Be # 1!
The concept of winning is of paramount importance in American culture. All of us have been so inundated with the concept that there are two types of people-winners and losers. Winners receive all the positive accolades and are considered to be a cut above the rest of us mortals. All of our lives, we are told that when we undertake a task or an assignment, it is with the ultimate goal to win.
We are constantly told by our parents that we must always do something well. In this context, well does not merely mean good but excellent. Yes, people have been indoctrinated with the cult of the pursuit of excellence. Being merely good is considered to be just mediocre to say the least. You know, anyone can be good. However, in order to be noticed and in a big way, one must be that magical word- EXCELLENT! Being excellent is thus equated to being a winner-better yet, the ultimate winner!
The cult of excellence has totally permeated American life. When one is deemed to be excellent, he/she is indeed a winner. Winners are amply rewarded in this culture. They are considered to be stars. They have doors and opportunities opened to them that are not opened to others. Others deify them. In addition to that, others want to either be like the winners or wish that they were them. People simply love to live vicariously through the winners among us.
It is totally exhilarating psychologically to be a winner. Winning naturally makes one feels good and totally competent. When one is a winner, he/she exhibits the prerequisite skills to beat the competition. He/she is also on top of the food chain and/or pecking order. There is a Darwinian premise to be a winner. When one is a winner, he/she is the alpha of the situation. Winning adds meaning to the statement, it is the survival of the fittest.
We have been inculcated with the premise of the importance of winning since childhood. In families, siblings constantly compete with each other in order to see who is the best regarding currying parental favor. This winning mentality not only occur in families but schools also reward those who exhibit prowess whether it is intellectual, academic, or athletic. Even though we teach our children that all of us are equal, in actuality, we actively promote the premise of the pecking order where someone has to be on top.
In order to make winning make attractive and desirable to children, those who are high achievers receive gold stars, plaques, and other accolades of achievement. There are honor societies for children and young people who are considered to be academic winners. Children who are high academic achievers are often elevated by teachers as examples to what other children can aspire to achieve. Such children are often treated better by teachers than those who are merely average.
This does not only apply to academic and intellectual areas. Children and young people who are highly prodigious and achieving in athletics are also deified. Like the high academic achiever, those with prodigious athletic talents are often treated with kid gloves by teachers, coaches, and peers alike. They are considered to be gods/goddesses in the world of lesser mortals.
The winning culture is further emphasized by the pervasiveness of beauty and other talent contests. The goal of such contests to assure that one gains the prerequisite exposure and to be the best at the game. There is such thing as participating in an activity for its own sake. Activities are to be participated for the purpose of winning. Take little league games where boys are pressured to win or not to bother to participate at all.
In this increasingly competitive culture, children are being inculcated that winning is the be and end all. Children are taught that to win and to be excellent is the difference between being in a good or mediocre school which often has future implications regarding tertiary education and later a career. Many parents often go through inordinate lengths to ascertain that their children be on top academically.
While there are positives to being the winner and number one, there is also a downside to the issue. Being number one and winning can be quite an admirable goal. Not everyone is going to be the ULTIMATE! There are going to be those who come in second, third, and even twentieth! This is reality and an undeniable fact of life. However, there are those among us who refuse to accept the prospect of not being other than first or winning!
There have been incidences of those who act unethically in order to obtain the coveted prize whether it is a company award or a promotion to the corner office. The concept of winning and being number one is so attractive to some people that less than positive behavior is acceptable. The dictum of such people is that the end ALWAYS justify what means to be used.
Many people are quite uncomfortable with the prospect of not being a winner. To such people, if one is not a winner, then he/she is a well.........a loser. Who wants to be considered a loser. To be a loser is equivalent to be at the bottom of the pecking order. Very few right thinking and sane people would appreciate being at the bottom of the pecking order. Being a loser is equivalent to being utterly powerless.
Besides being powerless, being a loser is also equivalent to being a failure. Remember the adage that there are two types of people in life-winners and losers. In some people's estimation, if one is not a winner then one is loser. When one is a loser it means that one is totally lacking and therefore, he/she is a failure. People who are failures are generally disrespected and thought of as totally insignificant nonentities. It is indefinitely better to be considered a winner than it is to be a loser.
People who are winners are also deemed to be more sexually attractive. Winners are usually self-confident people who know what they want out of life and how to implement steps to achieve their goals. In addition to that, they are perceived as being stronger than those who are not deemed winners. Conversely, people who are considered to be losers are often perceived as less sexually attractive and weaker. People clearly do not want to be around losers while they gravitate towards winners.
In essence, winning is viewed as a positive asset in this society. People who are winners are often highly respected by others. They are also viewed as more powerful, popular, and charismatic. On the bases on these components alone, everyone wants to be associated with them. Winners are the ultimate in success and everyone wants to be successful whether they acknowledge it or not.
In summation, winning is associated with positiveness in our culture. People have been inculcated from early childhood that winning is extremely important. High achievers are amply rewarded through gold stars, plaques, awards, and other accolades. Winning gives one a psychological boost and increases one's self-esteem.
Winners also have star power and opportunities that others do not have. Winners are also powerful people. Winning has such an attractive quality that many people would descend to acting unethically in order to achieve their particular coveted prize whether it is a company award and/or a prize promotion to CEO. To some people, winning means so much that they are willing to sell their souls to do so. Winning is indeed nice but it is worth debasing oneself and/or others to win. Remember, not everyone is going to be win and be number one. Being number two is also good!
Winner Takes All Culture
Do you believe that modern Western culture, particularly American culture, is a winner takes all culture with a VERY STRONG emphasis on either being number one or nothing?
© 2012 Grace Marguerite Williams