During the last two months, the people of this United Kingdom have had their way of life placed on ‘lockdown’, with millions subjected to a country-wide house arrest. For a while (until restrictions were relaxed slightly), people were only allowed one hour of exercise outside the confines of their jail cells, which they previously called home.
Besides what our political overlords have deemed ‘essential services’, commerce has also been cast into prison, having had its sentence extended again and again, as if it was guilty of treason in a totalitarian state. But the economy cannot be locked away forever, so when it is inevitably released – after being starved and strangled for many weeks – it will emerge in a severely weakened state, dragging us all into a recession.
Nevertheless, the cold breath of lockdown has already been detected by those acutely aware that other major issues existed in our society before the coronavirus arrived in the country. From a mental health crisis to job insecurity, a symptom of COVID-19 has been to open these wounds even more, further exacerbating the problems already facing the nation. However, the one problem that this period of lockdown has caused to stick out like a sore thumb, is virtue-signalling.
For those unfamiliar with the term, virtue signalling is the modern-day food of narcissists. From the celebrity fanatically declaring their allegiance to the culturally approved political opinions of the day, to the echo chamber addicts displaying their wokeness on social media for a digital pat-on-the-back; virtue signalling is a strategy for getting attention by exhibiting one’s own conformity to a particular set of beliefs that are perceived to be the universally accepted status-quo. Therefore, the theory goes that if you hold popular beliefs, you yourself should expect to be popular.
Yet a common side-effect of virtue signalling is that someone who takes up the tasks may not practice what they preach. Now where have we seen examples of this recently? There is the Peacock family, who made a 90-minute journey to the beach for some much-needed Vitamin D replenishment, only to complain that everyone else on the beach had the exact same idea. Who would not journey to the coast on a warm, sunny day?
When interviewed by the BBC, the mother, Jane, declared that “I’m quite shocked at how many people are here”, with the daughter adding to the criticism of fellow beach-goers, proclaiming her worry that a second spike in cases is bound to occur if everyone dares to leave their home. Maybe instead of a day at the beach, perhaps a trip to the fairground would prove more worthwhile – more specifically, a visit to the Hall of Mirrors for some ‘self-reflection’. If one is to ‘virtue-signal’ by placing one’s sympathies with the most vulnerable who may contract the disease, it’s not the best idea to speak to the media in a public place, where many strangers come into close contact with one another.
Then we have the state religion’s weekly ceremony, taking place at 8 o’clock sharp, where millions of people across this nation spontaneously enter into a trance, are lured into their kitchens with magnetic hands yearning for the metallic contact of pots and pans, whilst equipping themselves with a wooden spoon ready to strike the object. Standing outside their front-doors at the turn of the hour, the decibel-overload of appraisal to the Golden Calf (also known as the NHS) then begins, carrying on for several minutes.
Rather than solely an act of selfless appreciation for health care workers, the furious banging of pots and pans is often used to signal one’s own moral superiority in the fight against the virus. In fact, this ego can extend so far that anyone caught not clapping for the NHS faces public humiliation, as if we had been transported back in time to the Medieval era. For example, the news recently reported the story of a woman who missed the clap one week due to fatigue after taking care of her child; her circumstances did not matter to the morally righteous NHS zealots who proceeded to condemn the woman on social media. Is this country turning into Stalinist Russia, where not exuding enough applause can land one in trouble? ‘Get the stocks out, the family at number 3 has taken too long to step outside’.
Nevertheless, the overdose of virtue signalling must override the brain’s self-awareness receptors, as some of those partaking in the weekly clapping ritual have been caught red-handed avoiding those exact measures put in place to alleviate pressure on the NHS. Notably, the mass gathering of clappers on Westminster bridge clearly violated social distancing rules, with photographic and video evidence backing this claim.
But that did not matter – the cameras were only there for the virtue signallers to prove that they were at the holy site in order to boost their own ego.
The police, taking a well-earned rest from drone spying on dog walkers and fining people for buying crisps actively partook in the applause by supplying a parade of police cars which lined the bridge, complete with blaring sirens (to amplify the noise – of course). I am unsure how loud a household’s banging of pots and pans can reach but I do not think it can match – let alone surpass – that of a police siren, so the police win the great virtue signalling game this time.
Yet when this is all over, when the great coronavirus lockdown is only found in the history books, the illness of virtue signalling will have not ceased its grip on the human race.
Photo by Nick Vidal-Hall on Flickr.