On the concept of "virtue signaling" 

I've seen the "virtue signaling isn't real" or "virtue signaling is admitting someone else is good and you don't like it" kinds of takes basically since the first wave of mastodon.social users

and while I also bristle to see the term used to criticize aesthetic choices rather than substance, I've come to conclude that fundamentally disagree with the idea that it's a non-concept, an ad-hominem, or somehow exists only as a right wing countersign. Hear me out 1/

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On the concept of "virtue signaling" 

If an Evangelical Christian puts a fish decal on their car or business, that's definitely a way to signal their values to other people who would assess them and find them virtuous. It is an ingroup signifier. It lets people for whom it has positive meaning select for interaction with that person, and tells people who would not to stay away. That is its primary feature - a literal signal of virtue. 2/

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On the concept of "virtue signaling" 

Other signs may not be as explicit - I feel like I have some sense of what a person values when they say folx rather than folks - but they serve similar purpose. It's a shibboleth. A low risk, low effort behavior modification to say to that particular crowd, "I am safe. I am good. I am on your side." 3/

On the concept of "virtue signaling" 

In and of itself it's not a bad thing to show your colors. But it becomes insidious when it's hypocritical, or when it's used to justify harmful behavior and reinforce structural oppression. Like the "green beard" in green beard altruism, it is worse than pointless - in fact dangerous - if it doesn't come with the behavior it's meant to represent. 4/

On the concept of "virtue signaling" 

The virtue signal is real. If you're here you probably do it and you should probably own it. It's unhelpful to think of those signs as Universally Good because even leftists don't agree on them.

But you should also recognize - I would say, you should also condemn, if you have a safe platform - when someone uses the signals of your ingroup to justify, conceal, or obfuscate doing harm. If they do so in your name, that's *your* reputation they're going to damage

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