Way back, long before people proved their empathy by twitting “hopes and prayers” or condemning the unwoke for using offensive language like “hysterical,” empathy wasn’t something you signaled to your followers but actually did in real life. In 2007, I explained my take on charity.
Charity is giving something of significance without the expectation of anything in return. Not recognition. Not even a thank you. It is giving for its own sake.
The phrase “virtue signalling” has become a ubiquitous insult, and with good reason. If the best you can manage is to twit empathetic phrases on the twitters or Facebook, then you’re just another scoundrel faking your empathy without actually helping anyone. Yes, I get it, spreading the word is itself virtuous as it gets others to similarly spread the word, and the word gets spread and spread, all the while no one ever doing much of anything other than spreading the word.
Plus, words make people feel better. Not as good as, say, a warm coat or a hot meal, but in your pretend world of warm and fuzzy, it’s close enough to make you feel good about yourself as you sip your peppermint latte.
There are some very unwoke folks who are trying to do something useful. Dan Hull has been pushing “One Night, One Person” for the past five years. You don’t get more politically incorrect than Dan, but if you happen to be homeless, a warm coat beats the hell out of twitter tears.
Greg Doucette has adopted an elementary school and, for the past few years, made some children’s lives better by providing food for the holidays. His goal this year, a mere $2,750, is remarkably modest, particularly given Greg’s substantial twitter following. And he’s got some folks matching donations, doubling their worth.
Granted, these aren’t anonymous efforts, but then, they’re real efforts, unlike those of you who spew empathetic words and never get off the couch or reach into your pockets for anybody but yourself. It may be unseemly to give and let others know about how wonderful and generous you are, but if a little self-aggrandizement is the price of helping someone, it’s better that you do so rather than do nothing.
Bear in mind, there are people who are hungry all year round, not just at holidays or the end of your tax year. If you can help, you should. If you need the validation of proving your humanity for your followers, then let others know about how virtuous you are for actually doing something real rather than merely feigning empathy.
As for me, it’s none of your business what my family and I do, but suffice it to say that I feel no qualms about telling you to do something real for others who are in need.