We have lived in several areas with social media pages where people network to stay connected and take advantage of opportunities in the area. I once encountered this lady–we’ll call her Karen–who seemed to feel responsible for the correct management of behavior throughout her town. Her most memorable rant was about drop-off and pick-up line etiquette at the local elementary school. Yes, there is a specific way to do things, and many people don’t do it right, and this lady just can’t handle it.
She’s actually “signaling” her membership in the group of parents who very carefully read over the rules and follow them to the letter for the safety of all our little ones, and let me just say, her blinker fluid is always full. Her suggestion on social media is that anyone who does not follow the rules to the letter do not care at all for the safety of the children in this town and only care about their own little entitled brats. I don’t think she really believes she will convert any of the pick-up-line non-conformists, but she seems to be signaling to all other rule followers that she is virtuously following the rules and, therefore, cares for the children as her group does, and how all others do not.
Have you heard of virtue signaling? According to Oxford Language Dictionary, it’s a derogatory noun meaning “the public expression of opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character of social conscience or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.” It’s intended to gather the likeminded against those who are not of the same mind and point a collective finger at their lack of moral correctness.
I see the same thing happening in Christianity on my FB feed. I don’t unfollow or unfriend people I don’t agree with. I’ve learned way more about how not to live from them than I ever have from those I agree with, so I’ll keep them on as my spiritual un-tutors. I wonder, though, how many of the Christian-virtue-signaling friends I have realize how they appear to unbelievers, the very ones we’re commanded to spread the Gospel to. Do we come off like the school Karen, so hung up on the letter of the law that we cannot see the spirit of it? Do we forget that church and Christianity is not normal for those who do not follow Christ and that we’re to live lives that point them to Him and not repel them from Him?
I try to remind myself before posting anything on social media that this platform can be used to honor God and that sometimes, that doesn’t look exactly how I think it should.
…and that’s the view from My Front Porch.