By Celia Rivenbark Tribune News Service
WWR Article Summary (tl:dr) Celia Rivenbark tackles "virtue signaling" (the act of speaking or behaving in a way that's meant to demonstrate one's good moral values.)
Ugh. Virtue signaling. Another thing we must worry about because it's not as if a pandemic, race riots and the start of hurricane season isn't enough.
I'm so stressed out I've forgotten if I'm sheltering in place or under curfew.
Is the mask I wear to keep others from my potentially deadly droplets or to scare away the murder hornets? I NO LONGER KNOW.
And now, we must worry about virtue signaling. Will I be judged for posting a solid black screen to support BLM on my Insta? I can already hear it: "Oh, looky here; Karen's proving her wokeness."
Turns out, showing empathy is turning into One More Thing we must rethink to avoid appearing to be bandwagon virtuous.
Virtue was signaled to me recently. Commenters tore into me like hungry animals eating a truckload of expired Walmart meat all because I recommended watching the "Tiger King" docuseries. You remember way back when the coronavirus was just a wee upstart trying to force its genome into a host cell? Good times.
"I would never watch anything that condoned the suffering of animals!" Moral superiority was signaled and I was a pack of rancid ribs.
It used to be only celebrities were accused of virtue signaling. I mean, that was OK, frankly. If you're Larry David or Emma Thompson yammering about carbon offsets just before boarding a private jet from the private airport that's so fancy it doesn't have the lady in the rest room who wants a tip for handing you a paper towel, well, you've earned some good old-fashioned American judgment.
Virtue signaling is a derisive term so cynical it even floors ME. Because what if this means we become so fearful of being judged we stop doing nice things altogether?
Back to the airport lady...what if we don't give her a tip in the restroom (how old is that Binaca anyway?) because we're afraid it looks like we're showing off our generosity?
I'm as guilty as anyone. When the cute couple in the Subaru tosses money or a bag of sandwiches to the skinny fella with the handmade "Any help appreciated...God bless" sign at the busy intersection, do you think, "OK, now I feel like a jerk because even though I have some loose change and an unopened muffin I'm awkward about holding up traffic since Goodness and Light up there just made us miss the green?
Here's the thing. We spend a lot of time vilifying virtuous behavior because we (1) assume its fake, all for show and (2) if it's genuine it makes us feel bad about ourselves. How dare someone have the temerity to do the right thing in public?
And now they must pay.
At the end of the day, Sometimes, people perform virtuous and empathetic acts out of a pure heart and genuine desire for a better world.
And other times, people grab a Bible, awkwardly hold it upside down and stand in front of a church for a photo op. ___ Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and humor columnist who frequently writes about politics. Visit www.celiarivenbark.com.) ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.