This is a take I hadn’t thought of Ré Harris because I have only ever seen “virtue signaling” thrown around by trollish types who either want to shut down someone with shame (because their target has morals that can be used against them) or nullify their argument by painting it as nothing more than empty posturing, all the while puffing up their trollish selves as superior.
In my world, we call textbook “virtue signalling” “self-righteousness” (usually expressed, “x is a self-righteous asshole” — wink Charlotte Franklin ), which differs from righteousness in that the focus is on looking good rather than doing good. But I guess social scientists would be out of a job if they couldn’t come up with new names for old behavior. Who am I to deny them a living.
I agree with Jack Preston King that it’s a sad commentary on the world view of troll types that all expressions of compassion or moral outrage are perceived to be disingenuous displays.
That’s for starting a great conversation Papa Kitty and Poe .