What's so bad about virtue signaling?

That’s an attempt to make sense of the illogical. T**** was off the charts in how bad he was as a President. The only thing he excelled at is bigotry. So the only way to explain so many people still voting for him in 2020 is that they are so on board with bigotry that they ignore his utter incompetence at everything else.

I disagree. I use virtue signalling for things like when companies have a wellness week that means they put out a bowl of fruit and send a generic email with pointless advice, then expect their employees to respond to 10pm emails and work over Christmas. It’s where the signalling is the point, not the virtue. Virtue, I’m all in favour of.

Disney changing its Twitter icon to a rainbow for Pride month, while cutting any significant queer characters or storylines from their films so it’ll sell in China, is perhaps the apex example of this sort of virtue signaling.

I disagree that you have a very good perspective on this, if those are your “examples”.

To say this means that you really haven’t paid any attention to pretty much anything about race, culture, or community relations, so your opinion on when someone is being unfairly called a bigot is pretty much beyond useless.

Pretty much all Corporate “Pride Month” advertising is “virtue signaling”.

Same for “African American History Month” or any other “month” or “day”

Yet 99% of executive management is white heterosexual christian males.

Spot on. This is one of my many issues with virtue signalling. If you’re going to be an extra-good person or do extra-good things, just do them because they’re a good thing to do (from your perspective, at least) or they’ll help someone who needs the help - not because it’ll also make you look good.

I agree with you in part, but there’s also something to be said for leading by example. If I donate big money and I’m recognized for it, I can bring all my rich friends to also donate money. (hypothetical me.) I can set a social standard for philanthropy.

There’s also the halo effect which makes people feel like they have done something about an issue just for having spoken out about it. It’s actually why I mostly stopped posting political stuff on Facebook. I want to be faced with the reality of what I have or haven’t done on these issues I care about. I have an easy out because I work at a nonprofit so I’m kinda forced to do them in exchange for a modest amount of money. By making it a career I’ve basically forced my lazy ass to do something useful. Now ask me how many times I’ve called my representatives. :confused: I hate phone calls.

Also as I mentioned upthread, there is extraordinary social pressure to speak out. When your black friends are telling you they expect to see anti - racist content on your feed, or having hard conversations with other white people… You do. When people say, “prove you care about X” you try to prove it. People who think “virtue signaling” is about social approval have no idea how much of this comes from empathy and love for others. It often is performative but less for kudos and more for loved ones feeling loved.

I’ve tried to step back from some of it. Not all of it. But when you live that struggle 24/7 it’s exhausting.

That may depend on your social circle, though. Like the people who know me know I just don’t care about a lot of the stuff that matters to them, so they don’t expect me to post about whatever their cause du jour is - and they know that even if I do care about it and agree with them, I’m still not going to post about it just so I can say “Look, I have an approved opinion! Validate me!”

As I pointed out to an acquaintance once: “You don’t give a shit about, or are even actively against the things that matter to me - why should I support your thing, especially if it inconveniences me or makes my life worse in any way?”

Overall you have a solid point. But …

The key word in that snipped sentence is “just”. Lots of folks assume lots of other folks are saying / doing {whatever} “just” for validation. As @Spice_Weasel said, validation has zero to do with what motivates her.

That’s the divide so many of us are talking past:

Folks who can’t imagine caring about stuff that’s not immediately beneficial / interesting to them, vs. folks who can’t imagine NOT caring about stuff that’s not immediately beneficial / interesting to them.

In the absence of evidence about some individual or group, I think it is better to believe the best of people, both for my own mental health, and because in general most people seem well-intentioned, so it’s more likely to be correct.

I’ve almost never seen anyone advocating for discrimination (excepting ‘anti-racists’), yet I see people getting called bigots all the time - usually for disagreeing with some progressive theory or project. And the people who rush to judgement never bother to find out why someone objects, or whether there might be some merit in what they are saying. It’s their go-to response to all dissent. So I’m sure you’re right that they are sincere in their beliefs, but that doesn’t explain why they act in such an unthinking way.

If you’re talking about voter ID laws, most right-wingers appear to believe the claim that their purpose is to prevent voter fraud - and ironically they view opposition from left-wingers as proof that fraud is indeed a problem. Even those idiots who invaded the Capitol in January believed they were there to save democracy, not to end it. So far as I can tell, most people do still believe in democracy, but they are so far apart on everything else that it gives the opposite impression.

For me, virtue signalling just goes beyond caring about things that aren’t immediately beneficial to you; there’s an edge of… not quite nastiness, but certainly intolerance of sorts, to it, somewhere between side-eye and an outright “if you don’t agree with this, then you’re an awful, awful person”, IME.

I think that’s fine for acquaintances, but the people I count on as friends do care about the same things I do, or in the very least, are willing to hear me out.

I’m not saying there are no differences among friends, but if you care about racism, chances are you care about misogyny, homophobia, ableism, etc.

I have a few friends with very different worldviews, but they aren’t the ones laying down these expectations.

Keep in mind I’m saying all this having one foot out the door at this point. I do work on these issues, but it’s a different sort of energy than trying to prove how I feel all the time.

And here we come back to evidence. There is no evidence that fraud is a significant problem. The opportunity to present evidence of fraud, well… They had their chance and we know how that went over in the courts. Anyone who believes fraud is a real problem is wilfully ignorant.

And that is assuming the best of their intentions.

Agree 100% there is nastiness to some folks’ derision aimed at folks they disagree with.

Where you and I might be parting company is the assertion the first folks are being nasty only, or even mostly, to curry favor with their own tribe. Ultimately that attitude amounts to a counter-accusation: not only do I (the target of nastiness) disagree with your views, but I believe you (the folks being nasty) are making your fuss for false and cynical reasons.

Which for many commentators provides a convenient excuse to ignore even evaluating the merits of the argument; it’s flat dismissed upstream of there. How handy is that?

I wouldn’t say they’re always only doing it only to curry favour with their ‘tribe’, but it’s certainly an element of it, depending on what the issue is. It’s worse on social media than it is in IRL, from what I’ve noticed.

Social media is nothing but words, so it’s hard to see what actions are behind them.

It both allows someone to claim to be more “virtuous” than they actually are, and allows others to say that someone else is “all talk”.

It is. And I don’t want to discount the nastiness.

This isn’t something that has gone unnoticed among liberals. A lot of us are tired of the purity tests. A few brave souls have spoken out about it. But it’s not easy. Because it’s framed as, if you don’t agree with me, you’re against me. Silence is violence.

I had the opportunity to attend a seminar with the author at the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence annual convention. Their seminar was entitled “Compassionate Responses to Call-Out Culture.” As we went through the exercises it became apparent how freaking judgy we can be to each other, to the point that we feel entitled to personal information about complete strangers.

One recent example of this was a white author who wrote a successfully published book about a student being sexually coerced by a teacher. A Latina woman who had trouble publishing a similar story led a campaign against this woman for stealing her story (as if this sort of thing doesn’t happen all the time.) The Latina woman never even read the story she was criticizing. Eventually the original author was forced to “out” herself as a victim of sexual violence to avoid accusations of appropriation. I think that is shameful.

Personally I’m inclined to blame the atheism movement (I supported it at the time). Lots of Americans became atheists, but many of them still had a psychological need for religion, so they imported various religious characteristics and practices into their beliefs on social justice. Most of the basic ideas behind Christianity are very positive - love your neighbour, turn the other cheek, God loves everyone - but somehow it doesn’t always turn out to be a positive influence. So too with other -ologies that want to change the world for good.

(The Bible even tells Christians not to virtue signal: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full… But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” But the social justice activists don’t seem to have imported that part.)

There are of course parts of the Bible that contradict that message. Jesus Christ certainly didn’t pray in secret.

I’m an atheist but not in any way knowledgeable about the atheist movement so I can’t comment on that, but it’s not like SJWs are all atheists. Many of them are Christian. I think it’s more likely that ideology always tends toward extremism once it’s adapted by enough people.

Really nothing I’ve ever seen. I don’t know any atheists with a need for religion. Not that there might be some, but this seems a vanishingly small population. As for your second paragraph, I see a lot more religious people trumpeting their holiness than I see leftists blathering about the good they do. Like a 100 to 1.

Anyway, fighting for social justice in secret makes no damned sense. It’s inherently about changing public institutions. Now we can argue all day about what counts as actually doing anything - I’m underwhelmed by the Facebook approach - but the whole point is to enlist others toward a shared mission. It can’t be done without allies.