The internet and social media are wonderful. They’ve done plenty of good for the world. People have connected like never before. Knowledge, information, and personal connections have never been easier. These are objectively good things for a social species like ours.
I make that disclaimer because I’m about to talk about one of the biggest negatives that the internet has fostered. I also concede there are far worse negatives. The internet and social media have done far greater harm in certain areas, plenty of which make the news. Some of that harm is just genuinely deplorable behavior. Some is outright illegal.
However, I would argue that one of the most infuriating, yet perfectly activities that the internet has enabled is virtue signaling. I’ve bemoaned it before and for good reason. Virtue signaling is a toxic combination of narcissism, groupthink, clickbait, and trolling. Take everything you hate about the worst people on the internet. Much of it is incorporated into virtue signaling.
It’s the selfish, ego-stroking act of loudly proclaiming that you’re so in favor or opposed to something that you demand acknowledgement and affirmation from total strangers. It’s not enough to just have a strong opinion or do something that’s actually virtuous. These people need the whole goddamn world to pat them on the back and assure them they’re a special snowflake.
There are far worse ways to describe this phenomenon. For my own sanity, I’ll leave it at that. I trust my readers to fill in the blanks without breaking their computer screens. All you need to know is that virtue signaling comes in many forms. Some acts are far worse than others. Like most things on the internet, there’s a spectrum to it.
Like any meme or trending hashtag, there’s a certain range of behaviors that constitute virtue signaling. Sometimes, it’s obvious. You need only see videos and articles whining about how video games, movies, and TV shows are ruining the world by empowering the patriarchy. However, I’ve noticed one particular brand of virtue signaling that’s becoming more common.
Specifically, it comes from the people who are usually the first to whine about virtue signaling. It’s every bit as hypocritical as it sounds, and then some. Virtue signaling is bad enough, but adding hypocrisy to the mix only makes it 10 times worse.
I’ve seen more and more of this pernicious virtue signaling in recent weeks, especially as the NBA playoffs wind down and as the NFL season gets going. It shows up in Twitter feeds, Facebook posts, and pretty much any poorly moderated comments section. It usually goes something like this.
“These self-entitled athletes dared to protest social issues! I’m canceling my subscription!”
“Get your damn politics out of sports! Until then, you won’t get a cent of my money!”
“Boycott this league and all the snowflake cucks who work in it!”
“I will never support a league that doesn’t stand proudly for the flag/anthem/whatever political symbol I’ve decided to champion!”
Trust me, it gets worse. It gets much worse.
At the same time, it compounds the cringe. I imagine the people making these comments don’t think they’re virtue signaling. They may see themselves as heroic underdogs resisting some nefarious foe looking to destroy them and everything they care about.
Again, these are sports leagues. They’re a business. They’re main goal is to entertain, make money, and attract the widest possible audience. Sometimes, that audience includes people who aren’t you.
That’s a concept that seems to fly over the heads of everyone who whines and complains about politics in sports, video games, comics, movies, etc. Pick any form of media. Give it any kind of controversial or political undertones, even if it’s indirect. Chances are you’ll get people who call that virtue signaling and some of those people protest by virtue signaling how much they’re against it.
They don’t always see the hypocrisy, but it’s painfully apparent at times. The biggest catalyst, in my opinion, was the very public protest by Colin Kaepernick back in 2016. He stated very clearly that he was protesting police brutality and not disrespecting the American flag or veterans. He belabored and reiterated that countless times.
It didn’t matter. A sizeable chunk of people, who I won’t identify because they make their affiliations all too clear, decided he was this anti-American radical. He didn’t just want to protest injustice. He wanted to ruin America, the NFL, and sports in general. I’ve seen many toxic comment sections and Twitter threads in my time. This was probably the worst.
Again, most of it was just virtue signaling from the other side. Everyone seemed to compete for the right to proclaim they loved America, stood for the National Anthem, and hated Colin Kaepernick with every fiber of their being. They do all of that while calling someone like Kaepernick and other players who protested with him whiny, virtue-signaling America haters.
It’s a cycle of hypocrisy that doesn’t just miss the point. It goes out of its way to avoid the actual substance of what the issue was. Remember, and I wish I didn’t have to reiterate this, the man was protesting police brutality against young black men. That’s a legitimate issue that hurts innocent people. It should be confronted.
Instead, the hypocritical virtue signalers of the internet decide to ignore that issue entirely and make it all about who loves their country and flag more. It’s the digital equivalent of a pissing contest. Everyone wants to yell how much they hate the NFL and NBA. They want everyone to know that they don’t support their league and won’t be watching any games.
First off, I don’t believe them for a second.
I suspect the people who make comments like that will get bored one day, flip through the channels, and settle on a football or basketball game. Nobody will ever call them out on it. Chances are, nobody will ever find out. They may or may not feel a twinge of guilt for the hypocrisy, but they’ll pay no price.
Second, if you go out of your way to post comments in feeds to tell the world how much you hate something, you’re not just virtue signaling. You’re being an asshole of the highest order. The NFL and NBA are not out to get you. They’re not out to destroy America. They just want to entertain and make money. Sometimes, that means catering to a diverse audience.
Certain snowflakes on certain extremes of the political spectrum may hate it. They can whine about it all they want, telling as many people as they can how they’re not going to participate. They’re still the bigger assholes here and considering the scandalous behavior of organizations like the NFL, that’s saying something.
I’m sorry if this rant is dragging, but as someone who’s genuinely excited for football season and doesn’t mind at all seeing athletes protest causes they believe in, this kind of virtue signaling just pisses me off more than most. If you hate the NFL just because they dare to raise awareness of social issues, then I don’t know what to tell you. That’s petty, shallow, and just plain stupid. Virtue signaling is bad enough. Let’s not make it worse by adding whining and hypocrisy to the mix.
2 responses to “The (Pathetic) Virtue Signaling Of Those Who Whine About Virtue Signaling”
Well, to a degree, the kneeling for the national anthem may not seem like the worst thing that could be done, considering there are people rioting and looting shouting Death to America in the streets. But I think the biggest thing I’m seeing regarding it right now is NFL athletes are kneeling because they want to protest against “oppression” of minorities, yet they’re working with brands like Nike which operates out of China and essentially the people making those sneakers are treated as slaves because they work overtime with little to no pay. So I can understand now why some might get upset about that because in China and Venezuela, slavery and oppression are real and are happening day by day. I mean the live action Mulan filmed near what’s essentially concentration camps and they had the balls to thank the communist Chinese government for allowing them to film near those camps where Chinese Muslims are just being abused day by day. And what’s hypocritical about that film being made near those camps is they intentionally cut out the romance in Mulan because of the “Me Too” movement to send a message of “strong women don’t need love interests”. Dear Lord.
But I do agree that virtue signaling is becoming a problem. The hashtag Save the Children is being hijacked by those who believe a vote for the current president will end human trafficking. They like to think they’re the gate keepers of saving children. Here’s what I say: stop making saving children from pedophiles into a political statement. Because any time you attach shallow politics to things as an excuse to try making yourself look good, you marginalize people and in the end, you’ll just lose a lot more than you ever gain by a ton. So I see both sides to it. But I really wish that it would all just stop already.
I don’t see anything wrong with taking the love interest out of Mulan, but ignoring those concentration camps is so cringe.
I do take issue with people who think being vocal about oppression is something negative though. There’s always “virtue signaling,” “political correctness,” or “SJW” being floated around as if wanting equality is a bad thing. I also find it interesting that he talks about racism as a legitimate issue, yet thinks women protesting sexism is “whiny.” This entire post was whiny. I have a problem with sexists who make excuses for why putting the option into a video game where you can beat the shit out of a suffragette is a-okay. The toxic men who intentionally put up videos of them doing it while spewing the most derogatory terms about women is proof of the encouragement you give to idiots like that. I’m sick of attempts to make TV and film more equitable being seen as negative. I’m sick of it all. What people who whine about “virtue signaling” or “political correctness” don’t seem to understand is that the more you impose oppressive values on certain groups of people, the more they’re going to speak out against it. There once was a time when speaking out could literally get you killed. Sometimes, it still can. There are hypocrites on both sides of the aisle and sometimes people take things too far, but I don’t see anything wrong with calling out misogyny, racism, or any other type of bigoted behavior when it arises. People just don’t want to hear about it and THAT’S the biggest problem. They want to sweep it under the rug. They don’t want things to change and they don’t want to accept accountability. That’s why all these celebrity apologies aren’t really apologies. Something’s gotta give.
Also, let’s not forget that the riots began because a racist cop killed a black man. People are still making excuses for him, including my cop relative. The racism in the police departments is pervasive and it’s been around for a long time. We can’t hate the riots and remain silent about that. We also need to take into account that most of the looting and rioting is done by the opportunists who wait for dark (when the protests DO turn violent, as most have been peaceful) and that a lot of right wingers have done stupid shit that the BLM protesters get blamed for, like killing that cop or setting that police department on fire. We need to see both sides, but speaking out against injustice will NEVER be a bad thing, no matter how much people whine about “virtue signaling.” The people who hated those kneeling for the anthem don’t care about China, so don’t give them too much credit. They care about black people being silent.