Category Archives: Virtue Signaling

The perpetually outraged on social media are virtue signaling their personal goodness

As noted on our blog, for many users turn social media into a platform for perpetual outage, with their outrage volume set to 11. Why do they do it?

A research paper explains:

Getting outraged on others’ behalf often isn’t about altruism but soothing personal guilt and asserting one’s status as a good person.

Source: Moral Outrage Is Self-Serving, Say Psychologists

In other words, the perpetually outraged think they are virtue signaling that they are better than others.


When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.”

Very, very, very few outraged posts I see on social media have to do with issues that impact the outraged poster, directly. This is why I have been perplexed by the level of outrage displayed. The study described here, however, finds that directing “outrage at a third-party decreased guilt”. Expressing outrage “inflated participants perception of personal morality” – in other words, social media outrage is virtual signaling that you are better than others.

Mrs Thompson and the boy named Teddy

TL;DR Summary

  • An emotional story about a troubled young child in elementary school whose entire life is changed by a caring teacher is widely shared on social media, every year.
  • The young child goes onto become a physician and seeks out the teacher that had a profound influence on his life.
  • Shared on Facebook for the umpteenth time.
  • It is a great story but it is actually a fictional story published in 1974.

Glurge: A touching tale about a troubled boy named Teddy Stoddard and the teacher who turned his life around.

Source: Teddy Stoddard :

Of course, many great teachers have big influences on their students.

As a work of fiction, this is a great story (click through the link to read it). Sharing it as a cute work of fiction is fine, but we have not seen it shared that way!

But why share it as if it is a true story? This is perplexing, as if people who share it want it to be true and by wanting it to be true, it then becomes true. Or perhaps some are virtue signaling, showing others that they think teachers are important (they are, of course).

Thanks to social media, the story will live on forever creating a new “fact” out of thin air.