virtue signalling

30 Oct 2021 02:15 - 16 Dec 2022 12:22
Open in Logseq
    • What an insidious and nasty phrase. I'm not sure who came up with it, but it feels like it was crafted in some lab for memetic warfare. By who exactly though? What side of what war is it serving? It's typically used by the right to poke fun at public support of liberal causes.
    • That's not to say it isn't pointing to something real, and interesting – the fact that people continually broadcast information about themselves, as part of the basic mechanics of social interaction.
    • This is not a particularly new for me. I think it's pretty trite actually, something everybody knows innately and more-or-less consciously, given that everybody has to participate in the ritual of self-presentation.
    • But the idea that you could analyze and write about this process as such – that's not so obvious, and I remember being kind of boggled when first read Erving Goffman, who wrote in great detail about the dramatic and narrative structures of everyday life, and in particular about how people managed their own presentation and reception.
    • But Goffman was clinical, not judgmental. His descriptions lacked the subtle sneer in "virtue signalling", the implication that the speaker has somehow excused themselves from the necessary tasks of presenting as a moral person.
    • Nevertheless, individuals and corporations festooning their public faces with Black Lives Matter slogans and signs like this really grate on me. I'm not sure why. Given the state of American politics, you can't take any of this for granted and making a public declaration of simple virtues is in fact a political act and nothing to be ashamed of.
    • It's pretty minimal, maybe that's what bothers me. If we have to fight for basic decency, we aren't going to have enough energy left over for the real struggle.