What's so bad about virtue signaling?

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.

Yeah, that’s possible. I mostly see it as a warning that having good ideas and good intentions aren’t enough to prevent a movement doing some very bad things.

Hmm. That’s true to a point, but I bet the stuff you do at work does a lot more good than people posting to Facebook, and none of us would know about that if not for this topic.This guilting people into speaking up about things they don’t really understand seems like a net negative, even if it’s not strictly speaking virtue signalling.

@Spice_Weasel, it’s the total inability to empathise with those harmed by the progressive project, as demonstrated in this thread, that makes me disbelieve in empathy as the motivation for ‘virtuous’ behaviour:

All I see is people following dogma: when it says to listen to a person and care about their feelings, they listen and care; and when it doesn’t, they close their ears and their hearts.

I don’t think you should bring other threads here, but I stand by my point.
You completely failed to give a good example of the harm caused by PC culture, in a thread where the OP also happened to be a bullshit example of PC culture.

The thing that you are closing your ears to, is the harm caused by misinformation, which is 99% of what the “PC gone MAD” phenomenon is.

I gave examples of harm, but you dismiss them all as unimportant/imagined, whereas you automatically take it seriously when people are offended by some word or other. That’s my point.

And I actually had mis-remembered that this thread was in the pit, so maybe I shouldn’t have linked to it? Your post is a convenient example, but I’m not meaning to imply it’s just you, by the way.

OP here. Could you elaborate a bit on this? I can’t figure out if you are criticizing me or agreeing with me or something else altogether.

I haven’t been following that thread much, and I think most of that list is stupid. But I am utterly mystified why anyone would be more concerned for the feelings of someone using “Jew them down” than they are for the feelings of Jewish people who have to hear that. To then compare a gentle correction of overtly racist language to a micro aggression is mind-boggling.

I have empathy for casual racists to the point of it kind of sucks to be gently admonished for your language, but empathy for someone’s discomfort should never be a reason to give them a pass. It’s a reason to be considerate in how you handle such things, but to simply not act? No way.

I’ve noticed this a lot in online discussions and I call it Schrödinger’s Offense. It’s when a statement is both simultaneously benign and offensive until we uncover the identity of the person who made the statement whereupon it becomes either offensive or benign. And I see a lot of people avoid this online by prefacing their message with a statement like, “I’m just a cis-gender heterosexual male…” I do see this is a form of virtue signaling because the message is designed to let readers know that they’re part of the group.

I mean the OP of the thread that DemonTree linked to. (This is why this kind of cross-linking causes confusion).

Incidentally, I would not criticize the person who posted the OP in that thread either, although he did take the bait on one of these silly PC stories. (It’s just one department, at a small Uni, that posted guidance (not rules), on certain terms. And one word got cherry picked out of that list to trigger people into “OMG you can’t even say picnic now!”)