Virtue Bullying

I’d like to be so ambitious as to coin a new term:

Virtue Bullying

With increasing frequency, I see people who are willing to post something shocking to their social media, in order to instigate a reaction from people, to rile them up, being totally unwilling to deal with any of the after effects. You’re getting the benefit of social grandstanding, with none of that yucky clean up afterward.

You know who says whatever they want, with no thought of the repercussions – 3-year-olds.

Often a subset, or part of the act of virtue signaling – saying some shit, just to demonstrate how great you are.

I’ve done some preliminary research, and I haven’t found a buzzword that I think is out there, to group together these kinds of actions that I’m calling virtue bullying. Likely because when most people see it, they say “Oh, they’re just being an asshole.”

Besides being that, you’re also being completely negligent of what impact you may have on other people, and choosing to ignore that we live in the most interconnected moment in human history.

What I think is the major cause of this is a common misconception that your thoughts are your own, whether they are in your head, on paper, or out in public view. But there are no good thoughts or bad thoughts. This is some puritanical leftover idea that we must be the master of ourselves inside and out, every moment of the day.  Since we can’t pinpoint some single ethereal location behind our eyeballs where thoughts come from, we just assume that we created it, and it’s ours. We are responsible it.

But here’s an interesting exercise: use one minute to calmly take note of your thoughts. Simply notice them appear and disappear. As they appear, try to figure out where they came from. Try to give that place a specific name. Did it work? (Thanks to Sam Harris for this gem from his meditation podcast.)

However, once a thought is authored, published and shared. You must own it.

While you can’t be responsible for the reactions of everyone, you do have a duty to communicate with them. Hear their response. Deal with their joy or frustration on the idea that you put into the world.

You wouldn’t let a new untrained dog run around the neighborhood and then say that whoever was scared by it was at fault, would you?

If your goal is to start a conversation, be prepared to carry that conversation. Otherwise, you might want to think on that Facebook post you just dropped. What if it was your last one ever, and the first thing that people remember when they think about you?


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