Posted: December 23, 2018 in Integral Studies, Pedagogy & Education, Personal Whining, Philosophical Debris

“Virtue Signalling” is a recent buzz word that denotes the actions of a person who is trying to demonstrate, usually in a conspicuous manner, their own moral virtue.   It often has a connotation of being an empty gesture, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  It can be mildly annoying to very negative in its effects.

There is, however, a negative version of virtue signalling which doesn’t get much discussion.  For lack of a better term, let’s call it negative VS.  This is when somebody accuses somebody else of poor morals, virtue or political correctness.  A few basic examples of this might be when someone behind you yells, “thanks for not holding the door” if you are exiting a store and don’t see someone behind you, or if you encounter a friend and they say, “thanks for not asking how I’m feeling” in a sarcastic way.  I suppose that there are times when one might be legitimately shamed for not holding a door open, such as when a person with a walker or a cane is struggling and you are obviously aware of it.  However most of the time I find this to be a petty and exploitative action.

I ask myself how I would feel if I were to say such a thing to a friend or stranger.  If someone in front of me neglected to hold a door, or if I encountered a friend and they didn’t begin the conversation by asking how I was feeling, and I immediately drew attention to either of these, how would I feel?  To put it bluntly, I would feel like an ass.  I would feel like I was deliberately applying a negative judgement and trying to make the other person feel less virtuous and less confident, often without really understanding the entire picture.

This is an act of tearing someone else down, trying to make them feel self doubt about their worth.  While there may be some specific cases where that is justified, I don’t feel that this would be the majority of cases and, if ever,  should be done very carefully, deliberately and instructively.  In most cases it is done to bolster the self righteousness of the person making the comment and to fabricate a reality where the other person should be feeling badly or lacking in moral virtue.  This kind of formatting of reality is nothing less than gas lighting.  It is stealing energy from the target of the comment and is one of the many kinds of social vampirism that is related to gas lighting.

I have found that at this time of year, many of those who are disposed towards normal virtue signalling can easily fall into the negative sort.  I don’t lecture those who do it (as it would likely be a waste of time), but understanding the process allows you to protect yourself from any guilt or self disparaging thoughts.  It protects you from the energy leeching that is at the heart of the practice.  –Not to say that one can never be criticized or corrected.  But this practice is unhealthy for both parties concerned.


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