Superimposed on this image is invariably a quote in big bold lettering — some kind of edgy, muscular platitude about ignoring your haters, striking out on your own, and dominating everyone in sight.
You know, being a straight up alpha wolf.
The idea of there being alpha (and beta) wolves originated from Rudolph Schenkel of the University of Basel in Switzerland, who studied a pack of wolves living at a zoo in the 1940s. Schenkel observed that the wolves competed for status within their own sex, and that from these rivalries emerged a kind of "alpha pair" — a "lead wolf" that was the top male dog, and a "bitch" that was the top female dog.
Then in 1970, American scientist L. David Mech wrote a book called The Wolf, which expanded on Schenkel's research and popularized the idea of alpha and beta wolves and the leader/subordinate social dynamic of wolf packs.
Both researchers described this dynamic as a competition for rank, with alphas being those who were domineering, aggressive, and violent, and used these qualities to fight off rivals to become the supreme leader of the pack.