Virtue Signaling

I got my booster shot at a local grocery store on Saturday. So now I’m triple-protected against COVID-19. Some studies seem to indicate that a “mix-and-match” approach offers additional immunity. So I’ve now had two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine back in the spring… and one dose of the Moderna vaccine here in the Fall.

The process was super-easy. I didn’t have to make an appointment ahead of time. I didn’t have to wait in a long line. I’ve been dealing with some of the side effects of my activated immune system over these last couple of days: including a headache, a slight fever, and some discomfort at the injection site. Still, I feel really grateful that this option has been afforded to me.

Honestly, I’m kind of proud about being triple-vaxxed. That means I take COVID seriously. I don’t just do the minimum. I trust the science and choose for the most robust protection against the virus I can get. Not just my own immune response to the pathogen. Not just the one-and-done J&J Vaccine that’s preferred for University students and other skeptics. But two doses of one of the leading mRNA vaccines, followed by a third dose of the other mRNA vaccine at the six-month interval. And if all that wasn’t enough, I’m even willing to wear a mask, when social circumstances dictate it.

But it just recently occurred to me that I’m falling into a sort of “virtue signaling” with these steps (or at least with my natural pattern of communication about these steps).

I’ve been subconsciously trained to use coded language to compare and contrast myself with others. Consequently, my language leans to the left more than I do. And it doesn’t help me to get along with others who think or feel differently. My left-leaning virtue signaling really isn’t all that different from others who talk about woke mobs and cancel culture on right-leaning media. Or those who say, my body, my choice or think for yourself in regards to COVID and its mitigation strategies (though the double-standards with some of these phrases feel particularly challenging to me).

So even though I’m writing a blog post about my vaccine status — for the whole world to know — I also want to wave the white flag. I want to end the culture wars, to whatever extent possible. I’ve legitimately made my peace with the understanding that different people come to different conclusions regarding COVID-19. Especially now that kids are able to be vaccinated, if desired. The American ideal is autonomy. We all have to make choices, and we all have to live with the consequences of those choices.

So I’m going to cool it on my own virtue signaling. And hope that in so doing, others will feel safe to do the same.

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