Virtue signaling refers to a popular online neologism, which is primarily used to describe someone trying hard to be a Goody two shoes.
It is mostly used online in relation to people taking stances in moral, political and ethical questions on social media, trying to convince certain groups and subcultures they’re Good Guy Greg.
The expression “virtue signaling” started emerging online in the early 2010’s, with examples showing up as early as 2012.
However, it first gained wider popularity following its appearance in an article published in The Spectator on April 18th, 2015.
Spread and Usage
In the remainder of 2015, “virtue signaling” had appeared in numerous contexts, especially following the 2015 Paris terror attacks, when social media posts about expressing support and condolences were viral.
It would be applied in forums, message boards, articles and other publications as well as podcasts.
“Virtue signaling” was first defined on Urban Dictionary on November 3rd, 2015, with many other entries to follow.
In the remainder of the 2010’s, the expression has seen a slight cutback in its popularity, however, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, “virtue signaling” became a relevant topic once again.
- Nytimes.com – Are You ‘Virtue Signaling’?
- Theguardian.com – Virtue signalling: the culture war phrase now in BBC guidelines
- Time.com – Don’t Be Afraid to Virtue Signal — It Can Be a Powerful Tool to Change People’s Minds