D3: Virtue Addiction / Virtue Junkie

These are terms actually coined over at Morgan’s place, but I have a feeling we’ll be needing it a lot over here.

Virtue Addiction  N. A form of narcissistic projective identification in which the sufferer engages in ostentatious, ostensibly political action in order to shore up his/her sense of self-worth.  Those with Virtue Addiction are known as Virtue Junkies.


This is your brain on virtue

This is your brain on virtue

The guy in the video at Morgan’s place is a perfect example.  The Examiner describes it like this:

When he got to the window, he told the young lady at the window that Chick-fil-A is a “hateful organization.”

The woman disagreed politely and said the company does not treat any of its customers differently.

“But the corporation gives money to hate groups,” he said, meaning organizations that believe in traditional marriage.

Even after berating her over Chick-fil-A, the employee remained professional and friendly.

“It’s my pleasure to serve you always,” she said as she handed him his water.

“Of course,” he said. “I’m glad that I can take a little money from Chick-fil-A and maybe less money to hate groups.”

The real-world effect of this gesture is, of course, infinitesimal; moms with kids who can’t make up their minds hold up drive-thru lines longer than this douche did, and Chick-fil-A wasn’t going to get his money anyway.  The point is the theatrics.  In order to feel good about himself, this guy has to preen and posture in front of an audience.

That’s the saddest thing about narcissism, really.  We think they’re completely self-involved, but in fact the opposite is true:  Their identity requires external validation.  We’re all unwilling extras in the tv show that is their lives, because what’s the point of telling yourself you’re a saintly-yet-sensual ninja with a twelve inch wang and a license to kill?  One look in the mirror disconfirms it all.  If other people don’t believe you are who you say you are, then you’re really….. nothing.*

Virtue junkies suffer from a similarly debilitating weakness.  They suspect, deep down, that they’re not good people — or, at least, not as good as they want us to believe — and so they try to force the rest of us to play the baddies in their mental melodramas.  They’ll comment on the political blogs of their opponents, for example, solely to spew maudochromatic squid ink all over everything.**  Our job is then to “argue” with them until they get their fix.  Ideally we say something like “I do too care about issue X”…. at which point they get to list all the ways in which we our party have failed on issue X.

We’re their enablers.


*This fellow has lots of good stuff to say about it; I recommend a good long trawl through his archives.

**This is, in fact, an infallible test to identify a virtue junkie.  The content of a maudochromatic statement always boils down to “you’re a horrible person.”  The appropriate response to which, IRL, is “fuck you” and/or a punch in the face.  This is why virtue junkies never make accusations to people’s faces unless they’re protected by cameras and/or cops.  If an internet commenter can’t respond to the putative subject of his post without yet more maudochrome, he’s a virtue junkie.  Just walk away… or mock him mercilessly.



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7 thoughts on “D3: Virtue Addiction / Virtue Junkie

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  3. Soozcat

    Virtue junkies are, in fact, so addicted to the feeling of being holier than their fellow humans that if there’s no obvious do-goodery to engage in, they’ll make up some kabuki-theater version of do-goodery (this is usually referred to as “raising awareness”) and engage in that instead. I call it “junk-food activism,” since I believe it’s worse than useless — because it gives the appearance (and attendant warm glow) of productive activity while doing absolutely nothing to fix the underlying problem.

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