Right from the start we all learn the benefit and need to virtue signal. It's the quickest way to show we are part of the cool kids group. These signals come in many forms from our attire, where we hang out, the words we use, what we choose to laugh at and of course what we own. I can recall in my early elementary school years it even included your pens, folders, notebooks and book bag. The cool kid did not have a common yellow #2 pencil but a refillable, clickable pen which held #2 pencil leads. As we got older this entire charade evolved into what clubs you were in, what you drove to school and which college you were accepted into. The cool kids always strived to say all the right things, own all the right stuff, be in the right places and be accepted by all the other cool kids!
By the time we are adults we do much of this without even thinking about it. But now it has further evolved to include social media. In some way every single item we post is a big virtue signal. When we post on social media we are putting forth an "image"... and when we do it to gain acceptance we are behaving exactly as we did in first grade. And we all do it.
Virtue signaling today includes "code words" just like it did back in my kindergarten years of 1975. These are words you can sprinkle into social media posts or conversations to signal your tribe. Some of these are words like- "inclusive, green, woke, freedom, rights, spiritual, Jesus, God, fellowship, intersectional, LGBTQ, people of color, brown people, 1st amendment, 2nd amendment, BLM... etc etc etc."
Social media makes virtue signaling easy and natural. Yesterday I saw a post from one of my heroes TIM TEBOW on his instagram account. I will attach the post below. In this post Tebow affirms some high virtues! It is very rich! In the post Tebow is pictured speaking presumably to a large crowd of worshipers in a $500 shirt and pants while the prose of the post touts true success does not include "money and fame"! This coming from a guy with a 10 foot bronze statue of himself idolized by throngs of followers, married to Ms. Universe and taking checks from the networks and Nissan Motor Co... It is like he has went full Southern Baptist and is preaching the "Do as I say...Not as I do" sermon!
Tebow is the coolest of the cool kids in his tribe. And Sandy the Dog's instagram account is much reviled today as she had to point out the deep hypocrisy of his post! But the more I thought about this post the more I felt gratitude for it all. For even the anointed saint Tim Tebow falls from grace at times and shows his human side like the rest of us. With this post Tebow reminded me how we all fall for this virtue signaling trap, more often than we even realize. It's likely Tebow (or his communications staff) didn't even realize what they were doing with this post.
All of this got me to thinking.... where does this need to virtue signal come from and why????? And what proactive steps can I take in my daily life to avoid it???
Here is what I came up with! Basically... when we virtue signal we are ASKING for love. We are asking for acceptance and to be loved. To be a member of the tribe. This comes from a feeling of fear. It is a lack of faith and a preponderance of fear.
Often the exact virtues we signal are the ones we are weakest in. For example Tebow felt the need to point out his life is not about money and fame... though in actuality his life revolves around it! It is the sharp spear point of his fear. Indeed the weakest part of his testimony. Its no different than the wealthy whites posting BLM signs in their manicured suburban front lawns... equality to blacks is their weakest point, the spear tip to their fear. Our virtue signals are an outlet for our greatest fears. If we pay attention it signals to us our greatest weaknesses. It's why so often those who detest gays indeed themselves harbor gay tendencies... and that's what they really hate. And we all know those who bible thump and throw out bible verses constantly... epic virtue signaling.
Acknowledging where the drive to virtue signal originates what steps can we take to proactively avoid it? Always the first step is acknowledgment. A good dose of humility.
After we admit what we are doing and why then the strength building can begin. Build your Faith. Find strength inside yourself... know that nothing external is as important as what is internal. Put your focus there. THEN..... stop ASKING for love and start GIVING love.
Leverage your virtue signals as opportunities for gratitude. Here is an example- Instead of "I am the first generation in my family to get a college degree!".... Try the gratitude proclamation- "I am so happy and grateful that in my time the US Army provided the GI Bill which enabled poor kids to go to college so I was then able to be the first in my family to get a college degree!". Do you see what I did there? I took the focus off "look at ME and what I did" to "look at my love for what I was given". Anytime we give gratitude for something we are GIVING LOVE....and what you give you shall receive.
So if it is really love and acceptance we want... instead of asking for it.... GIVE IT. Start your social media posts with "Today I am so happy and grateful for ____________. "
What if Tebow would have worded that post like this?- "I am so happy and grateful for the massive fame and riches I have personally been blessed with so I can reach millions of people for God"!
When we do this we accomplish so much. We FACE OUR FEARS.... and turn them on their heads.
In 2021 I pledge to work on my signals. To really study why I post what I post, wear what I wear, say what I say and do what I do. To do this inner work daily. To catch this demon inside me and expose him whenever I can. This demon of doubt... who whispers I am not accepted, not loved, not accomplished, not worthy. Then face that demon and vanquish him with love and gratitude.
Today I am so happy and grateful that Tim Tebow made this post. I am grateful for my own demons and the hard inner work I need to do. I am grateful for that inner showdown in the coliseum of my heart where I pledge to stand as a gladiator and take the very soul of the devil. An inner coliseum where no one is watching and cheering but where a great and dramatic showdown shall occur. I will not lay down and let the demon of doubt and emotion control and run my day to day life. Not without a fight.
I will face my fear and from that fight will result more love, more gratitude and more giving. For I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving! TODAY I AM SO HAPPY AND GRATEFUL ________________!