Oooo, I love a good, interesting discussion on Medium! Good one, PK&P. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss this!
Virtue signaling as I understand it means patronizingly or condescendingly lording your superior “morality” over others to feel better about yourself. Morality is in quotes because morality is no longer defined consistently among people in our interconnected global world today.
As mentioned in Wikipedia, it used to be the domain of the religious from a simpler time and was used as a cudgel to keep people in line. Back then, you could count on all kinds of busy bodies from your church and community to spy on, judge, and report your behavior to your family or church elders. Reputation back then was paramount to your standing in your community, so it was imperative that you were always on your best behavior and behaved morally in all of your interactions.
Virtue signaling today no longer has the weight it used to carry because we no longer live in the isolated communities of old that you never left during your lifetime. Today we are scattered to the far winds and we are often interacting with people whose opinions of us matter very little to us. This is especially true in the anonymous, online world because there are virtually no real world consequences for online bad behavior.
Shame is only an effective tool for managing human behavior if the person you are shaming shares your views of the world. If they are less sensitive than you are and do not share your opinion of what is right and proper behavior when it comes to the treatment of others, your attempts to correct them will fall on deaf ears. If someone today accuses you of virtue signaling, it means that they don’t subscribe to the same level of moral outrage that you do. In effect what they are saying is that where you drew the line in the sand was beyond what was reasonable and normal and that their line in the sand is the correct one. Your opinions and views go too far thus rendering them null and void as a measuring tool of good behavior. In short, it’s another form of posturing. Does that make sense?
(Apologies for butting in. Thanks again for this and, as usual, I am sorry for excessive wordy-ness and preachy-ness!)