The Quarantine Is Perfect For The Virtue Signal Generation: You Can Feel Good About Doing Nothing

Our culture is so consumed with feeling charitable that we’ve started patting ourselves on the back for sitting at home on the couch all day.

By Keelia Clarkson2 min read
Jennifer M. Mason/Shutterstock

Our most recent weeks as a nation have all looked rather similar: staying inside the house all day, joining Zoom call after Zoom call, venturing out for groceries every five days, and watching tons of Netflix. We’ve no choice but to do these things, of course, as this quarantine has no real end in sight. 

But weeks ago, as the first orders to quarantine in America started coming through, I noticed something interesting about our society’s reactions all over social media: everyone seemed almost gleeful. We seemed to be looking forward to hitting the pause button on life, getting the green light to stay home all day, and labeling those of us who weren’t as keen on quitting everyday life as selfish idiots.  

We’re Obsessed with Seeming Virtuous

In a culture that’s quickly and easily offended by words, opinions, and ideas, it’s not difficult to see why we’ve become consumed with the idea of being crowned the most moral. We use public condemnation and disgust of others’ political ideas, religious beliefs, and world views as evidence of our own virtue — in short, virtue signaling has become a favorite pastime of ours. 

We use public condemnation and disgust of others’ political ideas, religious beliefs, and world views as evidence of our own virtue.

In all honesty, none of us really know much about the coronavirus besides what we’ve been told by our news publication of choice. Some are entirely convinced we absolutely must quarantine for two years, others say they know for a fact it’s hardly worse than a seasonal flu. But despite our general ignorance of novel viruses, we speak with a whole lot of certainty about how immoral those who disagree with us are. 

But we’re failing to see the bigger picture — the people who have coronavirus aren’t the only ones we should be worrying about. 

It’s Not Selfish To Bring Up the Economy

It’s no secret that this quarantine has absolutely wrecked our economy. Jobs are disappearing, small business owners are wondering when they’ll get their income back, and those who were already on the edge of homelessness before the virus will find themselves worse off now. Yet even broaching the subject of the state of the economy due to the quarantine will cause an angry pitchfork-clad mob to chase us down the street (while ensuring they’re all more than six feet apart, of course), yelling that all we care about is money. But the economy isn’t just about money — the economy reflects our livelihood. 

It’s important that we open our eyes to the ripple effects of the coronavirus, not just focus on the deaths caused by the disease.

A virus for which we currently have no vaccine is, of course, a serious matter. We should all be thoughtful of those less likely to survive the disease, offer support to those who’ve lost loved ones from it, and do what we can to help contain it. At the same time, why can’t we also be worried about the two million jobs that will potentially be lost due to the state of our economy? Why shouldn’t we talk about the single mothers who are struggling now more than ever to feed their children because they’ve been laid off? Where’s the conversation about how suicide rates have been shown to increase dramatically when unemployment goes up? Why aren’t we more concerned with those who are facing eviction after already struggling to pay rent before the pandemic?

Closing Thoughts

Those of us who are happy to stay home and bristle at any mention of the economy, deeming it greedy and less important than the lives of those claimed by the virus, are being awfully shortsighted. 

On our quest to look the most virtuous, we’ve become preoccupied with shaming anyone whose opinion doesn’t fall in line with our own, while patting ourselves on the back for sitting around at home — in essence, doing the absolute least. It’s hardly virtuous to stay inside a house we feel safe in all day, lounge on a comfortable couch, binge Netflix, and make whipped coffee — it’s really easy, in fact. It’s important that we open our eyes to the ripple effects of the coronavirus, instead of stopping short by only focusing on the deaths caused by contracting the disease.