With the Black Lives Matter movements, we saw many posts with people supporting the campaign. Some were very genuine, while some were not genuine at all.
Corporations were also quick to join the fray with some brands suddenly realising the racial undertones and quickly making changes. But many question these corporations’ commitment and are sceptical about their efforts.
There’s a term we use for this – virtue signalling.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, virtue signalling is:
the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.
However, many have taken this in the negative to say that people or organisations may express these opinions and sentiments as a substitute for substantive action. And given this interpretation, outrage is often the result.
Of course, there are some shallow sentiments expressed sometimes, but that does not mean that most are not genuine. Merely shutting down people because of virtue signalling should not be acceptable, as you are guilty of doing the same.
The fact is that virtue signalling is a part of human nature that may have been developed as an evolutionary trait. It’s a way for us to go with the herd so we will not be alienated or shunned, which at one time would have been a death sentence.
We all are guilty of it, even me. Again, that does not mean that our feeling was not genuine.
Yes, for sure we should be wary of hollow platitudes, but rather than being outraged, focus on saying, “Thanks! Here’s what else you need to do.”
Except for people who go around saying, “Thoughts and Prayers.” That’s a hollow platitude if there ever was one.