I always get very suspicious when people engage in “virtuous” acts of valor, and highly broadcast it, and also sort of make you feel bad for not acting as virtuously as them.

Nassim Taleb calls it “virtue signaling”. I call it “virtue flexing”.

Is there anything wrong with virtue flexing?

Selfie side

Not necessarily. But I’d encourage you the following:

Don’t let others make you feel bad about yourself for not acting like them.

Ignore others

When someone tries to virtue flex on you, just smile, nod, and walk away. No need to give them any unnecessary attention. It’s like what they say:

Don’t feed the trolls.

Why help other people?

Selfie low angle

A suspicion:

When we try to help “the helpless poor people”, isn’t this disrespectful?

Inherent in this, we see ourselves superior to the poor. But is this fair? What if they don’t want your pity and help? What if some poor people actually see themselves as superior to you? Then who are we to feel “pity” for the poor, or those who are in a “lesser” socio-economic class?

Why do people virtue flex?

I think it is because they want to somehow be rewarded for their virtuosity. But this is base. To desire some sort of pat on the back for virtuous behaviors is downright despicable. It strips away all honor from the virtuous act.

Also from a pragmatic perspective:

If you do something virtuous, and virtue flex, and nobody congratulates you, you’re gonna feel dumb, bitter, and shitty.

Who does virtue flexing actually benefit?

Sometimes I virtue flex, or tell others about my virtuous acts. Why? I’d like to inspire them to also do the same. But when I do it, I try my best not to put myself on some moral pedestal or high horse. I just try to say the facts and why I did it. It’s not useful to tell others that they should do as you did. Enough to just share what you did… that’s it.