Thoughts on Anna, the Millennial Sociopath

This article about Anna, the millennial sociopath, has been linked all around but it is a good yarn and I recommend it as an interesting read if you have not seen it.  I have a couple of thoughts.

I told me wife that I was unlikely to be fooled by Anna, because I have known a lot of rich and successful people and almost to a one they don't engage in this sort of name-dropping behavior.  Where I grew up we called that "all hat and no cattle."  I have met people with some of the same sorts of shticks as Anna and they have always been full of sh*t.

My wife, who used to live in Manhattan, said that from her experience things were different in New York and even successful people felt compelled to make a public spectacle of their success.   As much as I would like to believe there is a difference so we flyover country folks can feel a warm sense of superiority, this may be more a function of her having lived there in the 1980's.  I know successful New Yorkers today and they don't act this way, the one in the White House notwithstanding.

I actually think this may be more of a function of people without business experience building up their understanding of business from watching fictional shows on TV and in movies.  I call this the Dynasty effect, where everyone thinks big business works just like on Dallas and Dynasty (sorry, dating myself here).  Actually, business life is EXACTLY like fictional accounts on the screen, but you have to watch Office Space and Silicon Valley rather than Dynasty.

I want to add that there is something oddly compelling about this story for folks like me who are introverts.  When one starts a role playing game, one has a character sheet with different qualities.  Typically increasing one characteristic means decreasing another.  I think I found Anna compelling because her character sheet was filled in so differently from mine.   And I don't mean that in a self-serving way like she is dishonest and I am honest.  Sure, at the end of the day Anna is an unlovable parasite, but its hard as an introvert not to secretly admire so much daring, a willingness to walk up to pretty much anyone anywhere and ask them for almost any favorNext time you are playing your fighter in that RPG, wonder a bit -- as he wades through an ocean of blood with his sword and constantly takes near-fatal damage that has to be healed while watching you mage stand in the rear and just nuke creatures from a distance with spells -- whether that fighter might wish that you had specc'd him with just a bit of magic.


  1. mlouis:

    I live in Manhattan and status-signaling is as prevalent as’s just that the rules of the game have changed. Tacky displays of wealth have become low status. However it appears to be supremely important for the rich to send their kids to the “right” schools, live on the “right” streets, and adorn their names to buildings fighting for the “right causes.” All while steadily increasing the barriers to entry to the club (fighting more more zoning restrictions for example). The rich desperately want those just a few rungs down to know they are wealthier (and more virtuous of course) and I don’t think that’ll ever change. They are poor stewards of capitalism as this is engendering increasing distaste for the whole system.

  2. Mercury:

    Anna actually comes across as the most likable character in this story and I'm not so sure there is much distinction between wearing a big hat and having actual cattle when your goal is to open yet another flashy watering hole where vapid rich people and wannabes via for social status and make a big fuss over themselves. Sure, she didn't really have any money but ideally you want to use as much of other people's money as possible for such a venture anyway.

    Anna could have easily been successful here if she had simply managed to convince enough deep pockets that building a brand around her was a reasonable speculation. Many a successful career in the Big Apple has covered up a lot of early stage bluster, BS and blank resume space.

    Instead, she relied too heavily on cargo-cult tactics - swanning around town with all the right, superficial accouterments, trying to attract the big payload. This apparently worked for quite a while (which says more about 2017 NYC than it does about her) but it wasn't quite the right tack to take. If she had just one partner, a boyfriend for example, whom she was reasonably honest with, someone less naive than herself in certain areas, she could have easily pulled it off.

    It's not like Anna wanted to practice medicine in New York but didn't have a medical degree . She wanted to launch herself to the top of a particular social hierarchy which, minus a few zeros, is composed of people completely indistinguishable from herself.

  3. Elam Bend:

    This young restaurateur got by on a lot of bluster (and some business) until his antics caught up with him. He still blames the paper that wrote the original expose, but by that point, several people, who were burnt, were gunning for him.

    I believe this is the original expose:

  4. Mike McDonald:

    I don't live in Manhatten but have friends that live in a high rise on Central Park and definitely chase the "get the kids into the right school" ideal. By my middle America standards, they make an obscene amount of money but I don't envy their lifestyle. From my perspective, I live better day to day on less than 1/10 the income.