Yeah, every time I hear the phrase “virtue signaling” I think “Would you rather people signal non-virtue instead?” The problem is almost always in the definition of ‘virtue’. Focusing instead on the human universal of ‘actions meant to show who you are’ is comical hypocrisy. https://t.co/OhPKb1Ajpq
— Eliezer Yudkowsky (@ESYudkowsky) January 5, 2020
For those of you who aren’t aware of what “Virtue Signaling” is, the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.”
I’m not particularly for it or against it, to be honest. What I’m more interested in is what I’m inferring from the people who use this term as an insult or derogatory term.
Let’s get this part out of the way first. Everything has a pro and con.
For example, current politics concerning Black Lives Matter and DACA, to stay silent would be to be complicit in the rampant racism that is taking place in our country. A dilemma is thus born. Do you speak out against racism? Do you shame others who think this movement is funny or ridiculous? Do you educate others who are trying to stay neutral on an issue no one should ever be neutral on? Decisions…Decisions…
To top it all off, you have people running around claiming that anyone who stands for what they believe in is “virtue-signaling.” As if that somehow invalidates anything that person has to say.
So, let’s go over different perspectives.
If you stay silent because you believe this “isn’t your fight,” have I got news for you. If you care about your country at all: This. Is. Your. Fight. America was built on the premise of immigration, integration of different cultures and races, and the hope of freedom and equality for all.
If you’re comfortable, congratulations. You have reached the desired goal your ancestors fought for. People of Color are now fighting that fight. They fought alongside your ancestors and helped them get theirs, now it’s your turn to repay the favor. You want peace restored? Join the fight and help end it faster. To stand by and watch as others suffer from something you no longer have to deal with is cowardly and selfish.
If you think Black Lives Matter or DACA is ridiculous or joke-worthy, you’re most likely the ones complaining of all the “virtue-signaling” out there and how sick you are of it.
Let me tell you something. You only get tired of hearing about “virtue” when you don’t have any. Same as the only people who get tired of hearing about sex are the ones who aren’t getting any. In both cases, it’s a reminder of what you’re lacking.
Whether it’s vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists, civil rights activists, or simply your neighbor who uses the green reusable grocery bags, you only feel they’re saying, “I’m better than you” if you actually interpret their actions as making them better than you. Maybe sit with that little morsel and figure out if your actions are creating some sort of unresolved guilt. Work through it. You’re an adult; I have full faith in you.
To speak up means getting hit with comments that are disparaging, derogatory, and lacking any compassion or empathy whatsoever. You will have a few willing to listen and educate themselves. Be proud of those few; they’ll be instrumental in the future change coming.
On the other hand, if you get “called out” on virtue-signaling, don’t take offense. There is nothing offensive in the term, and frankly, as an insult it’s laughable. It’s akin to the fifth-grade insult “Goody Two-shoes.” The only people who hated them were the people who could never be well-behaved themselves. In reality, the anger at them was out of envy and jealousy that they would never have the recognition and adoration the “Goody Two-shoes” would receive.
Same goes here—if someone accuses you of “virtue-signaling,” be grateful. It means your behavior is highlighting their own contrasting behavior. They don’t like it, which means you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing. Raise the standards!
Keep that virtue alive.
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