An attempt to show other people that you are a good person, for example by expressing opinions that will be acceptable to them, especially on social media. Cambridge online dictionary
COVID-19 is a deadly pandemic, and responsible Governments around the world have sought to protect their populations by enacting social distancing rules.
The vast majority of people have complied with this guidance as much as possible and understand why a lockdown and social distancing is crucial to stop the spread of this virus.
But there are some who have not stuck strictly to the guidance. There is a minority, who for whatever reason oppose the lockdown and actively defy calls for social distancing. This is particularly bad in the United States, where a vocal minority seem to value libertarian ideas of absolute freedom over protecting human life. These people deserve a Darwin Award.
But then there are those, who just push the boundary a bit. They go out for their daily exercise and they maybe stay out a bit longer. Maybe they sit at the park and read. Maybe they even talk to some friends who also happen to be at the park. Some people even go and play sport, hold picnics or generally socialise. The longer this period of lockdown goes on, the more this occurs. Is this advisable? No, of course not. But we need to remember that humans are social being by nature. We are being told to isolate ourselves in our homes in the interests of public safety. But as a species, this is not what we are designed to do and we will inevitably find ways to interact and socialise. Yes, in the era of Zoom we can do this virtually, but it is not the same.
And then we get the people who like to virtue signal. These are the people, who in normal times will be the first to comment negatively on the actions of others so to make themselves look virtuous and good. They will make a point of complaining about the person they saw park their car in the disabled parking bay outside when they had to park five blocks away. These are the people who will talk disparagingly about the person at work having an affair, despite secretly loving the saucy office gossip. They will slut-shame and mock whoever they don’t like on Love Island that week whilst still watching the show avidly. These are the people who want you to know that they are good, moral and upstanding citizens. And they do this by condemning the actions of others.
During COVID-19 you should only go outside once a day for exercise, and when you need to go shopping. And some people want you to know that they are doing this. They want to be seen as one of the good ones, the virtuous moral citizens doing the right thing. And how do they show this? By letting everybody know what they think of “those people” they saw sunbathing in the park. They want you to know they aren’t like those people playing football, having a picnic, talking to their friends and generally flouting the rules. Those people are scum, they are spreading the virus and the government should have them all arrested and close all the parks just to show them. Those people are out there having fun, while they are at home being responsible. They are going to post on social media and let the world know how good they are compared to those people.
Let’s get some perspective on this. The vast majority of people during this lockdown have significantly reduced social interaction over the last few weeks. We are not catching crowded public transport going to work. The pubs, restaurants, cinemas etc are all closed. People are staying at home. They are working from home. Most people are talking to friends online and not in-person. Even those who are flouting the rules are still interacting with far fewer humans now than they were a few months ago. And this is not easy as we are at our core social beings. We are connected to our families and our communities, and many are not able to be with loved ones while this pandemic is happening.
These are difficult and for many very stressful times. And yes, during this lockdown some people slip up. You don’t need to virtue signal to be a good person. We don’t always know what is going on in other people’s lives. Instead of judging, focus on what needs to be done to get through this pandemic and helping others do the same. We all need to do our best to keep social distancing until we defeat this virus. But we also need to be kind to each other.