The Brief: Virtue signaling is outwardly indicating that one supports a cause or is a "good person," without necessarily acting in ways that correspond with such signals.

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The term originated in the UK but has since proliferated internationally. The Cambridge Dictionary recently defined virtue signaling as “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.”

The term is often used in a negative way to imply that someone is trying to send the message that they are a “good person” without actually acting like one. An example of this might be putting “#BlackLivesMatter” in one’s social media bio, but not actually supporting the Black Lives Matter movement or any other anti-racist efforts IRL. However, virtual signaling may also be backed with actions. For example, many people both wear a pink “pussy hat” and do real work to advocate for women’s rights.

While the phrase is used in a variety of contexts by people of many political leanings, it is often referred to by people who are against “political correctness” or “PC culture” and dismiss “virtue signaling” as a performative attempt to act holier-than-thou.

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