You know this term, virtue signaling? Apparently, it’s been around for a few years, but I just learned about it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen it in action for ages, though, and it’s a highly irritating practice. Virtue signaling is basically when a person says or does something that is basically meaningless in an attempt to look noble. An example I can think of is when people change their profile pictures on Facebook to show solidarity for something. They’re showing “support”, but if they don’t do something more significant, that action doesn’t lead to anything but the appearance of “good”.
People usually “virtue signal” for vain purposes. They want to look good, but they don’t necessarily want to do any work. So, say there’s been a mass shooting in Italy– just making this up– and a bunch of people change their Facebook photos to match the Italian flag. They don’t do anything else, other than change their Facebook photos or post a few memes. That doesn’t actually help anyone in Italy. It just makes the people who change their profile pics appear to be more sensitive to the suffering of people affected in Italy.
Or… say you know someone isn’t much of an animal lover, but all of a sudden, they start posting on social media about the plight of animals in shelters. It’s kinda bullshit, but the person looks like a more moral person for doing it, even if the truth is, he or she couldn’t care less about animals. There’s been no effort expended to make the animals suffer less. No money was donated. No time was given or supplies purchased. Basically, the posts do very little but make the person who shared them appear to be a more decent person.
I think that’s kind of what’s been happening during the coronavirus crisis. Lots of bored people have started jumping up on soapboxes that didn’t exist three months ago. Now, they are preaching about maintaining the guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing when, three months ago, this issue wasn’t even on their radar. Of course, it wasn’t on most people’s radars three months ago. We heard about people trapped on cruise ships and lots of people dying in China, Italy, and Iran. Now, everyone is an expert on the virus and what we should all be doing.
Yesterday, after seeing the same fucking meme shared for the hundredth time about why mask wearing is important, I decided to post something obnoxious. I knew it would get responses from people thinking I was referring to their posting habits. Actually, the “guilty” didn’t seem to notice this comment from me:
LOL… I have started hiding the “wear a mask” preaching posts. Enough is enough. If people haven’t gotten the message by now, they never will.
Seems to me that this is pretty simple. The point I was trying to make is that people have made up their minds. Sharing this meme or similar ones…
is not going to change anyone’s mind about the efficacy of masks. We’ve all seen this one and the blue death screen version of this same sentiment over and over again. Sharing it again doesn’t make you look smarter or wiser than anyone else. It makes you look like an asshole. Sorry… I know that comment won’t sit well with a lot of people, but that’s how I feel. It’s sarcastic, insulting, and completely discounts the legitimate reasons some people have for not “getting with the program”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the self-righteous among us. And sharing a meme about urinating in public while naked to illustrate the importance of masks is just silly. At least share one that doesn’t have a typo in the heading.
Just as annoying, though, are the pleading memes like this one…
I suspect some people continually do this because they enjoy getting feedback from the like-minded. They rack up a bunch of “likes” and “loves” and atta-girls or atta-boys, since the people who are irritated by them don’t typically say anything. Sharing something like this makes you appear to be a good citizen. But I think you’re a better citizen when you simply do your part to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic without the public displays of virtue signaling on social media. Most of us have read up on the masks and social distancing rules. Those who are believers in it already know all this stuff. Those who have made up their minds to rebel are not going to be convinced by your meme. The rest of us, who would like to just wait this shit out without becoming deathly ill, are getting fatigued.
My post got some comments from people. I had to reassure a couple of them that I wasn’t talking about them sharing news articles and expressing outrage over the way some people in the United States are behaving. I don’t condone the idiots who are protesting en masse in state capitals, threatening government officials, toting their guns, and being thugs. To be clear, I do respect the rules. I have left my house/neighborhood twice since March. The one time I went into a store, I did wash my hands and wear a mask. I got in and out of there as quickly as I could. The other time I went out, I stayed in the car. I even stayed strapped in, because I didn’t want Bill to turn into Pat Boone.
At one point, though, I brought up car seat, anti-circumcision (skintactivists), and breastfeeding “Nazis”. Before the face mask controversy, I’d most often see the virtual signaling behavior whenever someone shared a picture of a child in a car seat. It never fails. Post a picture of your kid in a car seat and you damned well better be sure that kid is strapped in perfectly correctly. Otherwise, you’ll get an online lecture from some self-appointed car seat twit who wants to critique your buckling technique. Same thing with breastfeeding and circumcisions. You get yammering from someone wanting to educate you about why “breast is best”, or why you shouldn’t get your infant son’s foreskin removed. Sometimes, people have good reasons for the decisions they make for themselves or their families. Sometimes their reasons aren’t any of your business. Most people are trying to do the best they can and probably ought to get the benefit of the doubt. But try to tell that to the zealots and they won’t hear you any better than the rebels do.
So anyway, we were having a good discussion about this issue, when I got a comment from a car seat specialist who defended her “right” to share car seat memes “any darned time” she wants. Well, first of all, I never said you couldn’t share your memes. It’s YOUR page. You can share whatever you want to on your page. What I said was, I am HIDING the shaming memes because I’m tired of looking at them, and I find them annoying, insulting, and depressing. And secondly, if you legitimately know what you’re talking about on a subject, then share away! I don’t have an issue with people who have valuable things to share that are genuinely educational and beneficial. And I wasn’t specifically talking to or about you and your social media habits. My issue is with people who went to the Facebook School of Medicine and want to educate and enlighten the rest of us with their brilliant insights they learned on social media. And they share the same fucking things over and over again. At what point have you preached enough? Does that happen when every single person is bowing to peer pressure? Or does it happen when the next big controversy arises?
I just read a really good article about how to talk to people who don’t wear face coverings. I think it’s very good, of course, mainly because I agreed with what was stated. Shaming and scolding are never good behaviors among adults. It doesn’t get people on your side; it pisses them off. Sometimes, it even leads to violence. I noticed an exchange on a friend’s page the other day. One of her friends wrote that she’d threatened to “throat punch” someone who wasn’t wearing a mask in the checkout line at the grocery store. Another friend took issue with the threat of violence over the mask wearing. The first friend– the would-be throat puncher– then shared that snarky “peeing” meme with the typo to explain why masks are important. Then she told the other woman to “educate” herself. Asshole behavior, if you ask me– and I was glad to see that the other woman didn’t take it lying down. There’s no excuse for threatening violence, especially at a time like this. It doesn’t make you look like a “badass”. It makes you look stupid. Maybe the woman had a reason for not wearing the mask, or maybe she was just being inconsiderate. Either way, there was absolutely no need to threaten her with violence.
I think we’re all under a lot of stress. I think it’s best to be kind and try to be understanding as much as possible. As for me… I’m not sure when I’ll be leaving the house again. I don’t like the masks, but I like shitty confrontational behavior from other people even less. But I’m going to try not to preach about this on Facebook. That’s why I write a blog. 😉