Saturday, 14 April 2018

Virtue signalling, a definition

Virtue signalling, aka halo-polishing, n., "the act of publicly flagging your alleged moral piety, while shaming others who aren’t on the same holy plane;  a bedfellow of ‘clicktivism’ and hashtag activism– or ‘hashtivism'."

A form of second-handed activism: parading convictions you know in advance are acceptable to others simply to enhance your group status (see also People's Republic of Grey Lynn); conspicuously posing rather than actually doing, esp., loudly expressing opinions or sentiments intended only to demonstrate one's adherence to the cause of the day; acting so as to look morally superior to others, when factually there is no substance to your claim, and actually you intend to do no no more about it than make noise. (See also Unintended Consequences.)

Virtue-signalling is making a statement because you reckon it will garner approval, rather than because you actually believe it. It’s a form of vanity, all the worse because it’s dressed up as selfless conviction.” Often from keyboard warriors claiming they’re saving the world, but for all the talk about virtue,it's noticeable that virtue-signalling often consists simply of saying you hate things.

One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything actually virtuous. It takes no effort at all. Just whining.
 Examples in use
For British Labour party leaders, Europeanism is just a virtue-signalling gesture -- like wearing a charity ribbon.’
‘A lot of what happens on Facebook, as with Twitter, is “virtue signalling” — showing off how right on you are.’
'Led by global luminaries such as Michelle Obama, Malala and Piers Morgan, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls has been used 4.8 million times by 2.3 million users on Twitter. Some of the girls escaped but, tragically, 218 remain missing, and virtue signalling celebs quickly moved on to the next fashionable hashtag.'
'Expect a year of virtue signalling from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, particularly on plastic trash in our oceans. And as with nearly all virtue signalling, expect Trudeau’s blather to be more about shining his environmental apple than about doing anything meaningful.'
'Jacinda Ardern's Government is putting 'virtue signalling' above energy reliability.'
See also:



  1. A lot of us, and me, spend many hours on internet blathering on about how to right the world; defeat the wicked progressives. Sometimes on Monday morning I realise I haven't really given any time or energy freely for anyone all week. So that's a virtue free week. But really there is hardly a day can go by when I don't see some old dude who can use some help with a task, and the normal excuse is I'm too busy.

  2. A commenter at Twitter suggests the definition above is too narrow: "Virtue signalling is also common from people who DO the good stuff ['good,' that is, by the ethic they wish to impose upon you as 'good'] & irritatingly thrust their moral & societal superiority in our faces," he says. "A minor example, recipes. Listener & its demographic, never add an egg, add a fresh organic free-range egg."

    Another example, from a friends's Facebook feed: "I came home to find my neighbour's daughter sweeping my deck. Her mother asked if she could clean my living room. They don't do this in a spirit of love, but in a high minded sort of way.
    I told the girl to never work for free - that my rule is I only accept help if I can't do it myself or pay for it to be done.
    And this altruism is rampant and turns into a high minded snobbiness. And on second thought, it's just altruism as a cover up for low self-esteem (I'm better than you because I have to help you!)."

  3. I agree with the Twitter comment.
    Virtue signalling has been with us for a very long time, it just didn't have the present name for it.

    B Whitehead


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