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The unstoppable rise of the virtue signal

Updated: Dec 30, 2023


Welcome to 2023.


Who would have thought back then, when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, so that scientists could easily share important discoveries, that social media would be a thing, and that the would be idiot of your class could get recognised as a popular philosopher. The person that couldn't string a sentence together, becoming the most popular in cyberland. Using plagiarised words and pictures, they pander to the great unwashed, that simply are not clever enough to think for themselves. The bedroom philosopher, strengthened by the likes of sycophants. You know who you are.


It is social media that willingly offers up this opportunity to carefully curate a public image and, while some choose to broadcast their professional success, wealth, personal fitness, mental wellbeing, nights out, holidays abroad, or even just what they had for dinner - there are a few special ones - the others, that are obsessed with making a show of their moral worth.


I am sure we have all seen the messages on social media, urging social movement, guilt tripping us into positive action - the look at me post, am I not more worthy because I take a selfie for you, whilst doing something righteous. You can sense the desperation for a compliment oozing from the screen. These messages emphatically calling for some moral act, and by return imply a hearty condemnation of those that do not partake, that do not buy the fantasy. Whatever your beliefs - the message is lost. When you choose to align publicly with a cause, not for the cause itself, but in order to boost your own public image - then the real message disappears.


These people - you know them - they are the ones that sit in judgement, believing only their own rhetoric, silently sniping at anybody that doesn't conform in their echo chamber. These are people that assert authority yet have no clue. We have all been witness to their shit. When we do witness it we have a choice; 1. Share, like the sycophantic 5% or 2. Ignore it, like the rational 95%, muttering the words 'fuck sake they are at it again'.


There may be a myriad of annoying traits but the characteristics of moral posturing on social media that really grind the gears of the rational 95% are definitely the equation of fiction with morality.


Virtue signalling in itself is only part of the problem.

Its like this, if you don’t accept their opinion as fact, whatever the subject, the implication is that you somehow are immoral. There’s a sense that if you don’t endorse their significant claims, then you’re somehow not a very good person. Not that they would ever have the balls to name you, that might involve dealing in facts when challenged. No, these half wits simply make up their own ideologies, and sit in their echo chamber throwing rocks out of the door. In their heads - are their beliefs even their beliefs? Or is the whole thing simply a charade, and in fact their 'beliefs' are actually a significant part of the virtuous facade they so loudly promote. Signalling this so intensely, so important for them to feel that they themselves are actually virtuous - whatever the reality. Because virtue gets likes, and likes are good right? It is, in essence, a superficial way of portraying oneself as caring and socially conscious. It’s not about the issue at hand or reality - it’s about how you are perceived. Its about taking part, but only for personal gain.


And, Theres loads of it about if you stop and look at the overflowing flood of posts down the Social Media rabbit holes that desperately seek virtual approval and validation. Virtue signalling has become a tiresome practice that is getting harder to ignore.

Virtue signalling to the masses, is a trend that is doing more harm than good.

It is Superficial, it is not a replacement for real activism, in fact it actively discredits real activists.


Aside from that obvious superficiality and the damage it does to real activism, the practice of virtue signalling is just plain annoying. Social media platforms become ruthless pedlars of half truth, where reality makes way for plausible fiction. A hotbed of self indulgent images, with carefully curated hashtags to further enhance the image of moral worth.


It’s time to stop pretending online and start taking real action towards creating a better world. We need to stop trying to impress others and start doing genuine good in our world. Social media is a powerful tool that can be used for good, but creating a culture of sycophantic likes and shares in order to self validate, is just a recipe for disaster.


Ultimately, any one person’s claim to be a moral authority is probably not true: We all see far more shades of grey than we might like to admit. I’m generally suspicious of people who claim to be of high moral value, because morality is a great equalizer. We’re all a mix of good and evil, probably more evil than good truth be told. If you try not to show that, you’re probably hiding something.


Isn't it time we all do our part to make social media an avenue for genuine change?


So why not get over yourself, and make that happen.



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