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Questions for Reflection
Each episode we offer you a few prompts to think about how that day's conversation applies to you. Our supporters over at Buy Me a Coffee now have exclusive access to the PDF versions of all our Questions for Reflection. Join us today!
1. Is this your first introduction to the term “virtue signaling”? In what way(s) have you observed it in your life?
2. Is virtue signaling a good thing or a bad thing? How do you know?
3. What are your virtues? Is it important to signal them?
4. What are your thoughts on corporate virtue signaling? Have you ever stopped (or started) supporting a business based on the virtues it signaled?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:03):
Welcome to the Discovering Our Scars Podcast.
Beth Demme (00:06):
Where we have honest conversations about things that make us different. I'm Beth.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:09):
And I'm Steph.
Beth Demme (00:10):
Steph has been in recovery for 14 years and is the author of Discovering My Scars, her memoir about her mental health struggles, experiences, and faith.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:18):
Beth is a lawyer turned pastor who's all about self-awareness and emotional health, because she knows what it's like to have neither of those things.
Beth Demme (00:25):
Steph and I have been friends for years. We've gone through a recovery program together, and when she wanted to start a podcast, guess what? She asked me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:33):
Beth didn't hesitate to say yes, because she's learned a lot from conversations with me over the years.
Beth Demme (00:38):
We value honest conversations, and we hope you do too.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (00:42):
That's why we do this and why we want you to be part of the conversation that we're having today. On today's show, we're going to have an honest conversation titled, "Is our podcast virtue signaling?"
Beth Demme (00:52):
Then, we'll share a slice of life, and the show will close with questions for reflection, where we will invite you to reflect on the conversation in your own life.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:00):
So before we get started, Beth, I think we really need to talk about the word virtue signaling, because you actually mentioned this in an episode a few episodes ago, and that was the first time I had heard the word. I was really trying to figure out really what it means, and I'm going to be honest. I still don't have the full definition. I'm not going to lie. That's why I want to talk about it today.
Beth Demme (01:20):
We'll talk about it. Yeah.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (01:21):
But I was recently watching a CNN clip, and right after the insurrection at the Capitol, and one of the officers that was actually at the scene was officer Daniel Hodges. If you've seen some of the clips, you've probably seen him. When the rioters were trying to push into the Capitol, the officers were pushing back, and he got stuck between a door. And luckily he's not injured. He's doing well, but he was being interviewed, and he used the word virtue signaling, so I wanted to play that now, so you can hear that. We'll put a link to the actual full video in the show notes.
Audio Clip (01:54):
Some of them felt like we would be fast friends, because so many of them have been vocal or at least virtue signaling their support for the police over the past year. They say things like, "We've been supporting you through all this Black Lives Matter stuff. You should have our back," and they felt entitled. They felt like they would just walk up there, tell us that they're here to take back Congress, and we would agree with them, and we'd walk in hand-in-hand and just take over the nation, but obviously that was not the case, and it will never be the case.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:25):
Beth Demme (02:27):
So, he's saying that there were folks there who were virtue signaling their support for the police, and the reason that he labeled it virtue signaling is because they very clearly did not actually support the police when it came right down to it. They felt like, "Well, if I'm going to say that I support you, then that means you can't oppose me," and yet it was his job to protect the capital, so that's what he tried to do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (02:50):
And that's the whole very negative side of virtue signaling. Why it is overall seen as a negative thing, because these people were on social media, in life saying, "Blue Lives Matter. Support the police," but when it came to face-to-face with a police officer, they almost killed him. He almost died, and they did kill a police officer.
Beth Demme (03:14):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:14):
And injured many, and we've actually heard two officers recently.
Beth Demme (03:20):
At least two have taken their own lives after the ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (03:23):
So, they essentially killed three officers, these insurrectionists so far. And so I think that's a perfect example of virtue signaling, is just talking and saying, "Oh yes, I support this. I support this," but then when it actually comes to showing your support in a physical, tangible way, you don't support. I was really like, "Wow, okay. This is a great example."
Beth Demme (03:47):
That is a great example. It's very timely. When you asked me what virtue signaling is, it made me dig into it like, "Well, this feels like a brand new word to me, too. Where does it come from?", so it's been around since at least the early aughts, the early 2000s. It's meant to be like that empty kind of ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:05):
Beth Demme (04:05):
Gesture. That's a great word for it. So it's where you say on social media, you signal this virtue so that other people will think a certain way about you, or so that you can associate yourself with a certain group that you're expressing opinions that would be acceptable to people who you want to have like you, but then that's the end of it. Another person described it as clutching your pearls. "Oh my."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:29):
When you were talking to me, it made me think of people that get on the bandwagon.
Beth Demme (04:32):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (04:32):
It was kind of like during the Black Lives Matter protest. One of the things that people did on social media was put a black square as a profile picture, which there's nothing wrong with that. That does show your support, but if that's all you do and you don't actually do research ... I mean, I remember during the protest, my world had been opened. I just hadn't seen this world that I was a part of, and needed to know what my part is and how I can be part of that change, so I think things like that. When you just put something on social media or even say it in person, but you don't have actions to back that up. But really when you break down the word, virtue signaling, if you reverse it, it's really signaling your virtues, right?
Beth Demme (05:22):
Well, I think if they were sincerely held virtues, it would be, but I think the implication is that you don't really hold this belief. Like you're saying, it's just a gesture. It's not something that you really feel strongly about. You just think, "Oh, this is a socially acceptable thing to say among my peers, so I'm going to say it."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:38):
It's going to make me look like a good person, like I have good moral compass.
Beth Demme (05:43):
Right, or I have a moral compass that people in my social group will think is good.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (05:48):
Beth Demme (05:49):
Right? I mean, I don't know. You were saying how during Black Lives Matter, you learned so much, and I did too. I'm thinking about that even with the Capitol insurrection. I didn't know the depths of white supremacy. I knew that it existed, but it just felt like a very narrow extremist group, and then you see people at the Capitol with shirts that say things like 6MWNE, and then you realize that what that means. It just has been eye opening to me, so I guess within their circles, they would probably signal a virtue that I wouldn't consider in keeping with my own moral compass.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:23):
Beth Demme (06:23):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (06:24):
So I guess when I'm trying to understand virtue signaling, every time I've been hearing it, I've been hearing it like it's a negative thing. It seems like virtue signaling, when you use the term, it is something that is empty, like there's no actual ... Well, what is the opposite of virtue signaling? Like, if you truly do share your virtues online, but then you do have a way of backing up. Is there another term, or is that still virtue signaling as well, but is that negative?
Beth Demme (06:55):
Well, I think this might be the kind of phrase that originally was meant to be negative, but that has taken on a more complete meaning, a fuller meaning. There's a Time article we can link to, where they actually say, "You should be virtue signaling. You should know your virtues, and you should be signaling them," which I think is how this term is maturing maybe.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:18):
Yeah, because to me, when you really look at the term, it's complicated. I think it can be used. I think it could be negative if you don't actually follow through, but if you do follow through, I think it is important to share our virtues, to share the things that we truly believe in, and not just put fluff all the time online or even in-person to people. I do think it's important.
Beth Demme (07:43):
I agree. I think that it's important that we-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (07:45):
But how can you tell the difference? How can you tell if this is good virtue signaling? How can you tell if this is bad virtue signaling? And how do we know ourselves?
Beth Demme (07:54):
I think that's the more important point, that we ourselves know whether or not we're virtue signaling, which is why the question comes up for us, "Are we virtue signaling through our podcast?" That's the question for us today, right? Well, I don't know. What are your virtues? What would you want to signal if you were going to signal a sincerely held virtue?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:17):
Well, I looked up what virtue means, because I feel like I know what virtue means, but then when I looked at the definition, I was like, "I don't know that I really fully, if that's the same definition ..."
Beth Demme (08:32):
I love the dictionary. No explanation needed. What did it say when you looked it up?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (08:35):
It said conformity to a standard of right, morality. So it's like showing our moral compass With our virtues, which is not really necessarily how I look at virtue. Like to me, virtues are things that I hold dear, that I really believe in, and are important to me. That's how I would define a virtue.
Beth Demme (08:57):
Usually in November, which is National Adoption Awareness Month, I will post some things related to National Adoption Awareness Month, because I'm really happy that our family was built through adoption. I guess I'm signaling that that's important to me, but not in an empty way. We really are a family that is built by adoption.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:17):
And I think those stories are super important to hear, and that makes perfect sense for you to do that, because it's something that's impacted your family, and you want to share that so people have a face and a story to something that they might not have context to, so I think that's super important.
Beth Demme (09:39):
That's November, so what about in October when everyone posts things about Breast Cancer Awareness. Is that virtue signaling?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (09:47):
It's a tough one, because it also makes me think of the Ice Bucket Challenge, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a few years ago. That was huge. If you don't remember that ... I don't know. We'll put a link or something to it. I feel like it just was. If you are alive, you knew about it. You know about it, yeah. So, that is interesting, because I can't remember exactly what the challenge was, but you had to pour ice on your head, or if you didn't pour ice in your head, you donated money to ALS research, although I think you really should have either way, like not should. You needed to either way.
Beth Demme (10:20):
Right. We did both, so my kids ice bucketed each other, and then ice bucketed me. I think the challenge, initially I think it was you either would do this, or you would make a donation, or you made a donation and then you did it. But by the end of it, it was you do both.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:41):
Beth Demme (10:41):
For sure. And so that was what we did, but we didn't make a significant donation. It was just the way that small donations pulled together to raise a lot of money and a lot of awareness.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (10:51):
Yeah, and that's the thing. I guess that's my point is, if people just donated but didn't do that challenge, I don't think I knew what ALS was before that. I don't think I would have, and that was huge by people doing this silly pour water on someone's head, it brought so much awareness to an organization or to a disease that needed support, that we would have never known about before. So, is that virtue signaling by participating in the ice bucket challenge, and is that a bad thing?
Beth Demme (11:27):
I feel like that's a really positive example, because, like you're saying, it raised so much awareness.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (11:31):
Oh. For sure. To get back to your cancer question about October, is it virtue signaling to say something about it online during that month if you are also not doing anything about it? It's a tough one, because I think awareness is key, and if you only did a social media post, but you didn't back that up with money to the organization, time, or any other effort, would that be a negative use of virtue signaling? I don't know. I think it's important to bring awareness to things, but I think it's doing a disservice if you just repost something without really having knowledge of what it is and why it's important. So if you haven't researched it, if you don't really understand the importance of it, then I think that is a negative use of virtue signaling.
Beth Demme (12:23):
Yeah, or in the example, like in the clip that we played at the outset of the episode, where people were virtue signaling that they felt like blue lives matter, but then when they were confronted with a blue life that was protecting the Capitol that they wanted to overtake, that life suddenly didn't matter to them. Like, that has to be virtue signaling, right? It's not just about raising awareness about the risks that police officers take, and it's not just about supporting full funding for the police or however it might be described. It was really, in that police officer's experience, they were signaling that they supported blue lives, but they didn't really.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:04):
And actually in that example, the reason why they were signaling they supported blue lives is because they despise the Black Lives Matter, so that was their politically correct way of showing that they don't support Black Lives Matter, by saying they support police officers, which is a whole nother ... It is the issue with white supremacy.
Beth Demme (13:26):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:27):
It's a whole nother thing, but that's interesting though. They were virtue signaling something that was politically correct, but they were virtue signaling the politically correct thing, so they could attack the thing that they didn't like.
Beth Demme (13:47):
Right. It was politically incorrect to say Black Lives Don't Matter, so they used as a substitute for that, Blue Lives Matter."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (13:55):
Yeah, but they didn't believe it or care. They just got on whatever the bandwagon was that was the opposite of what they didn't like. I think virtue signaling is just that. Okay. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, if you put stuff on social media, but then you come face-to-face with a breast cancer survivor, and you don't give them the time of day to hear their story or, "How can I support you?", something like that, then yeah. That would be completely virtue signaling.
Beth Demme (14:28):
Let me give you an example of how it really bothers me. I don't like it when I go into a convenience store or a gas station, or even a big box store, and they're selling bumper stickers, magnets, or pins that are a pink ribbon or I had ovarian cancer and the color for that is a teal ribbon. I don't like it when they sell those things and 0% of their revenue from the sales actually go to those organizations. That happens all the time. There's a way to support research into combating those cancers and getting a ribbon for that that you can then use to help create awareness, but when it then just becomes a revenue stream, I think that's virtue signaling.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:19):
So, that's interesting that you say that. When you go to, for example, Firehouse, they will ask you if you want to round up your order to the nearest dollar, and that change, that rounding up, will go to the firefighters. And then there's other places that will sell these little squares or little things you put your name on for $5 to go to some organization.
Beth Demme (15:44):
Right. Publix does that a lot with March of Dimes.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:47):
Exactly, so it's interesting. What do you think about that?
Beth Demme (15:52):
I think as long as they're actually ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (15:55):
But, so yes ... I agree with you. Where does the money go? When you're standing there in the five seconds you're checking out, and they say, "Hey, do you want to spend $5 to support the March of Dimes?", so there in that moment, you realize that if you say, "No," you're going to look like a crummy person. If you say, "Yes," then you'll get a little, "Atta girl," possibly, but in those five seconds, you have zero idea of how that is handled. You have no idea if that money is actually going to the correct organization. You have no idea what the percentage of. You have no idea, but in that five seconds, you have to determine, and whatever you say, this person will think positive or negative of you. What are your thoughts on that?
Beth Demme (16:45):
I always say, "No." It probably makes me sound stingy, but I always say, "No," because I know that in my life I am supporting the causes that matter to me in ways that are meaningful to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (16:58):
And I agree with you. I always say, "No."
Beth Demme (17:02):
We sound like the stingiest people right now.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:03):
But see, that's the thing. The thing that bothers me, and that's the whole point is they want to just catch you off guard and, "Oh, it's a couple bucks. Okay, and it's a good organization." I have no idea how this money is spent. I have no idea if the money is actually going to the right organizations, so I want to spend my money when I've done the research and know exactly where it's going. I also don't want my name on the little thing, because I don't want to look like I'm this something. I don't want my name on the wall. Like, that's silly to me. We do actually do the roundup at Firehouse, because it's so easy, but I still have no idea how they spend that money, so it could be going to nothing.
Beth Demme (17:52):
Yeah, and your name is not getting put on something there.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (17:53):
Exactly, yeah. So I would agree. I want to know, because there's actually a website where you can put in the organization, and it will tell you the percentage that you use for admin fees and the percentage that actually goes to the organization, and that's huge. Just because something's a nonprofit or something's a good thing, and you feel like, "I should be doing this," you got to do that research, because there's so many organizations where pennies are going to the actual need of that organization. It's just crazy how many nonprofits are just doing nothing for the thing that they're about.
Beth Demme (18:29):
Yeah. It used to be a thing, and honestly our home phone number, we never answer our home phone, our landline anymore, because it's always just solicitations of some sort. For a long time, it would be someone calling, "Oh, we're calling to raise money for wounded warriors," or injured vets, and it's like, "Well, are you a veteran?"
Beth Demme (18:50):
Beth Demme (18:51):
"Okay. Well, how much of this donation is going to go to actually help veterans?"
Beth Demme (18:55):
"A small percentage." I mean, it's just a company that's just using that cause to make money, because they know, guess what? People want to virtue signal.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:04):
Exactly. Because people hear this, and they're like, "Oh, this is something I need to support," and they also are guilted into it a lot of times. Especially, I think that's a lot about the grocery stores and things like that. A human is looking in your eyes and saying, "Can you spare $5? You just spent $200 on groceries. You have $5. Oh, you're such a bad person that you're not supporting this," and I totally disagree with that. In my opinion, that's not the way that I want to donate my money, is in a split second without having any concept of what this organization is, and that $5 is not going to do much when I could research that organization and give a more substantial donation.
Beth Demme (19:50):
But hey, if you went through the line at Publix and you wanted to buy whatever-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (19:54):
Go for it. Yes.
Beth Demme (19:54):
The thing was and put your name on it, no judgment here. Just do it with eyes wide open about it, and you know what? Sometimes maybe we just want to virtue signal that we're generous people.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:06):
Yeah. Sometimes it's just easier just to put your name in the little bubble thing. Yeah, I agree. I don't think you're a bad person for doing it. I also don't think you're a bad person for not doing it, so don't let anyone should on you when you say, "No," to that. Don't feel bad, because you're a good person. We know it.
Beth Demme (20:27):
One of my favorite phrases that you've taught me. "Don't should on me." Love it!
Stephanie Kostopoulos (20:31):
Exactly. So, but that's very interesting. Getting back to that, breaking down signaling are our virtue, and what are our virtues? I was thinking about it when we were planning this episode, like what are the things I hold dear? Something that I feel very passionate about and want to share his mental health, and that was a big part of why I wrote my book, was I wanted to share my experiences with mental illness and how I work on my mental health on a daily basis. I want to signal that. I want to talk about it, because I think it's so important for these kind of things to be discussed and to be out of the darkness.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (21:10):
That's something that if I have some way to share about that, and I feel like that's a big part of what the podcast is ... I also believe in loving people and not judging people. It sounds very like simplistic, but that's something that is important to us when we talk about the podcast, is what kind of people can we have on the podcast that you might not be hearing about in other places? And that was a big part of, like David that we had a couple of weeks ago sharing his coming out story. He's been on the list since day one. He's been on our list since day one to have on the podcast, because I wanted to give him an opportunity to share his story and to chat about that, because I thought those kind of stories are super impactful to hear from people themselves. Not hear OF people, but hear FROM them.
Beth Demme (22:00):
So, a virtue for us is inclusion.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:03):
Beth Demme (22:03):
And we did signal that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:04):
Beth Demme (22:05):
By inviting David on.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:06):
Beth Demme (22:07):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (22:07):
And something also that I hold very dear to me is my faith. That's very important to me, but it's an interesting thing when I thought about that, that it's something that is very important to me, because I also believe in not putting my beliefs on other people, especially in a political way. We've talked about politics before. I identify as a Democrat, because I see the policy of Democrats as being inclusive, not taking away people's rights, and not putting your views on other people, specifically with abortion. Just because you don't believe in abortion, doesn't mean you have the right to tell someone they can't have an abortion. That, to me, is not okay, so that's why politically I'm a Democrat. It's interesting, because I would want to signal that I am a Christ follower, but I do it in a very strategic way. I wouldn't just post on social media, "You got to love God, or you're going to hell." I wouldn't post that, because that's not something that I think is ... Well, that's too simplistic also.
Beth Demme (23:21):
Well, you have a tattoo of a cross.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:23):
I do, yes.
Beth Demme (23:23):
That's a distinctly Christian symbol.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:25):
Beth Demme (23:26):
That's a much bigger commitment than a social media post.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:29):
Beth Demme (23:29):
I don't know if you knew that.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:30):
Is my tattoo virtue signaling? I think it is, because it's signaling my virtue that I hold my faith very, very close and important to me. With the tattoo, as much as it's visible, I always thought of it as very much for me and not for the world, but I would think my tattoo is virtue signaling.
Beth Demme (23:53):
It's on the cover of the book.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (23:54):
And it's on my book, which was not my intention when I got it years ago, but I love it. Within those spheres, those things that I hold very dear, my virtues, we talk about on this podcast.
Beth Demme (24:10):
Yeah. We do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (24:12):
But I'm curious, what are your virtues, would you say?
Beth Demme (24:16):
I would say that I put a high priority on family, inclusion, and belonging. To me, church, when it's at its best, is all of those things. Faith is what binds all of those things. I'm thinking about bumper stickers and jewelry. Let me just say this, so I can process this verbally. I only wear a cross necklace if I'm wearing my clergy robes, because it's not that I don't want to signal those virtues. It's that I don't want God to be judged by how I'm acting, and I don't want the church to be judged by how I'm acting or how I'm driving, by the way. My kids, at some point, I guess elementary school or something, the boosters had a thing. You could become a booster, and you could get a magnet for your car. Of course, I became a booster, but I didn't put the magnet on my car. One of the kids asked me, "Why don't you put that on your car?"
Beth Demme (25:27):
I'm like, "Listen, you won't ever see anything about the church or the school on my car, because I don't want them to be judged by the way I drive." I just can't. I can't have that pressure. But I was behind a car the other day that had a giant Q sticker on it, and I was so grateful to know what their virtues were.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:46):
That's true, yeah.
Beth Demme (25:46):
Right? They're clearly a Qanon supporter, believer, cult member, whatever. I was really glad to know that, so that I could-
Stephanie Kostopoulos (25:53):
That is true. Avoid that car. It's true. Yeah. That's interesting. The back of my car, I have an Apple sticker, because that is very important to me.
Beth Demme (26:04):
You want the world to know you're a nerd? Got it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (26:06):
Yes. I also have a bumper sticker or a little magnet that says, "I heart my Greyhound," because that is accurate, and I want people all to know that. I also have a little decal of the four greyhounds that are in my life, except Tash is not on it, so I have to add her. Those are the things I hold dear, so I'm glad those are represented on my car.
Beth Demme (26:29):
What about corporate virtue signaling? There has been a lot lately on both sides of the aisle, I would say, with people accusing companies of virtue signaling. I think that there have been some examples of positive virtue signaling. We've talked about the insurrection at the Capitol, obviously, and following that, the founder and CEO of My Pillow was videoed going into the White House. He was carrying papers about a specific act that would enable the president to activate a militia type situation. Anyway, when Bed, Bath, and Beyond got wind of that, they announced that they were no longer going to carry the My Pillow. So they signaled their virtue, which is, "Insurrections against America are bad," and they took action on it.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:28):
First of all, I want to mention ... my pillow, which is made by the Purple Company, is the very best pillow. If you were looking for the very best pillow, I don't know about this My Pillow junk, but I'm glad that they are no longer sold at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, but I'll put a link to the pillow I use, because it's the best pillow.
Beth Demme (27:47):
We've got to get a sponsorship if we're going to keep promoing stuff.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:52):
Purple pillow. They're the best. I'll put a link. You'll love it.
Beth Demme (27:55):
It's because you love all things purple.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (27:57):
It's a great name. I'm not going to lie. It's a great company name, but no. I'm not going to get into the pillow, but it is great. I'll put a link to it, and it's the best pillow. I've had it for years, and it's the best pillow I've ever had in the world. I know what you're talking about with the corporate virtue signaling. Before I fully give my answer to this, I wanted to mention when I worked for Apple ... Did you know that I worked for Apple?
Beth Demme (28:17):
You worked for Apple?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:18):
I know. It's crazy.
Beth Demme (28:19):
Wait, wait. Like, a fruit stand?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:20):
No, no. The computer technology company, the most valuable company in the world. Look at their stock. It's pretty great.
Beth Demme (28:26):
Did you see their fourth quarter report for 2020?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:30):
I have their stock. I just need to-
Beth Demme (28:32):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:32):
It's just beautiful to look at.
Beth Demme (28:34):
$300 billion or something.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (28:37):
I fully support Apple and all their doings. When I worked for Apple, once Steve Jobs passed away, love Steve, but he's gone ... And Tim Cook took over, he actually started supporting some things that were kind of controversial. They would support LGBTQ organizations. They would financially support possibly politicians. I can't super remember that, but something that I wanted to mention when I worked for Apple, I remember. I think it was like the March of Dimes or something. Nothing controversial, but I remember that they gave a big donation, but they also said that they would match employees donating, so if we gave $5, they would give $5 as well. I thought that was so great to see that they were supporting, but they were even backing that up even more by encouraging their employees to support. I have a mixed bag about it, because especially controversial ... Like March of Dimes is not super controversial, but things like-
Beth Demme (29:42):
No. They do really important work related to birth defects. Absolutely.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (29:44):
Yeah, but things that are LGBTQ, Planned Parenting, and things like that, that can be controversial that people are on one side or the other on, I think corporations have the right to do it and I respect that, but I don't super love it. The reason for is I support all of the stuff that Apple has supported, because I think that way, and those are the things I support, so it's easy for me to be like, "Cool, great. Thank you for supporting that," but I also feel a little awkward about it, because it then puts it in this boat of people that don't support those things. How do they support a company like Apple when they don't support the things that Apple supports? It becomes an odd place to be. Most of the companies that I frequent, support the things I support, so it's not a big issue for me, but then you come to something like Chick-fil-A.
Beth Demme (30:37):
Yeah. I love Chick-fil-A.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:39):
Yeah. I love Chick-fil-A. I don't think Chick-fil-A is everywhere.
Beth Demme (30:44):
It's just here in the Southeast, I think.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:45):
Yeah. It's like a chicken place based on the name. It's really good. Anyways.
Beth Demme (30:50):
Hey, they didn't invent the chicken. Just the chicken sandwich.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (30:53):
Yes. You can see, we have frequented it a couple times. Anyways, a couple years ago, I believe they gave money to organizations that try to convert people that are gay to straight. I don't know how that works. It's ridiculous, whatever it is.
Beth Demme (31:13):
It doesn't work.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:14):
Beth Demme (31:14):
It's a lie, and I don't remember exactly what Chick-fil-A was supporting, but I know they were supporting organizations. My recollection is they were supporting organizations that had very strong anti-LGBTQ stances, and the LGBTQ community was like, "Hey Chick-fil-A? Come on. We love your chicken sandwiches. We love your chicken tortilla soup, but come on."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (31:38):
Yeah, and I remember when that happened, because I was working for Apple. We had a Chick-fil-A in the mall where I worked, and we would actually, as a store for our store meetings, we'd have Chick-fil-A sometimes. I remember they stopped supporting Chick-fil-A for a while because of that, because we had so many LGBTQ+ employees, and we were adamantly like ... Apple is very much about an inclusive company about supporting everyone and not supporting them, but I didn't stop eating there. I didn't agree with those things, but it didn't stop my behavior.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (32:10):
If there was a form for me to say, "Do you agree or disagree?", I would for sure disagree with them, but I did not stop financially supporting them, which is why I don't love when organizations support these controversial things, because then I have to make a choice. Do I still go to those places? Do I still not? How do I handle this? Yeah, so I'm kind of just a mixed bag about it. I don't love it, because then it becomes like this, "If you do support Chick-fil-A, then you don't like LGBTQ," which I just think that's too much of an extreme.
Beth Demme (32:44):
But it's a question of, "Are you virtue signaling your support by doing business with them?" That's where it gets complicated to me, right? Hobby Lobby, it's a place where I can get some craft supplies, and it's closer to me than other craft stores, but I feel uncomfortable.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:03):
I always am uncomfortable.
Beth Demme (33:04):
Supporting them, because of some of their ...
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:07):
My biggest thing about them is they don't provide birth control to their employees. That's crazy to me. I'm fine.
Beth Demme (33:17):
They won't allow a health insurance plan that would pay for birth control.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (33:21):
Yeah, which is just unfathomable. That is just ... Oh my gosh. I remember going there once and seeing the cashier was pregnant, and I was like, "I hope that was by choice," but that's the thing. I have to think that when I'm there. I love the stuff they have, but I feel icky when I shop there. I do it very infrequently, but I do, because it's like you said, it's close, and they have a good selection of stuff, but I don't enjoy it. I don't enjoy it, and I don't agree with any of your business practices. Also, they have no barcodes on anything. They have to type everything. It's ridiculous. I do not support it, but I do sometimes buy stuff there, but with a scowl.
Beth Demme (34:02):
So, you're there, and you're virtue signaling your disgust with their policies.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:05):
Beth Demme (34:06):
But that's the thing, is like, can we shop without our shopping choices equaling virtue signaling? I don't know. Maybe we can't anymore.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:14):
I think you can. I don't think it's fair to tell somebody that they are a bad person for shopping at Hobby Lobby if you don't support what they do on the business side of things, because me not frequenting Hobby Lobby is going to make no change. It's not going to make any change.
Beth Demme (34:35):
But in the example of Chick-fil-A, the backlash that they got did cause them to change their choices about who they were supporting, which charities they were supporting, and how they were going to handle charitable giving on a corporate level. So there was change that happened as a result of that public awareness campaign.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (34:55):
Yeah, so I do think public perception is huge. I don't know that me not shopping there is going to make that difference, but I think talking about it and making other people aware as well could help bend those kinds of companies into making different choices in their financials.
Beth Demme (35:13):
So, the question of the day, are we virtue signaling through our podcast? Is this is a positive thing? Is it a negative thing? Is it a mixed bag?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:22):
When we talked about starting the podcast, we had many conversations about the podcast and what it was going to be. We didn't know the name. We didn't know exactly what it was going to be about, but we met for weeks and weeks to figure out what it was going to be, and we started listing out what we hadn't been hearing on podcasts and what we wanted to be talking about. What we kept coming back to was honest conversations, things that you don't hear about, things that people don't talk about, things that are very, very important to us, that there are awareness and conversations happening about them, things that we hold dear. So, are we virtue signaling on this podcast? I think absolutely.
Beth Demme (35:59):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (35:59):
I mean, I think we are. To me, that was the whole point of the podcast, was to not just be part of noise and just to talk about fluff of life, but to really talk about things that are hard, things that need to be talked about, and conversations that you might not have even thought about, because it's not what we bring up in our day-to-day life, so yes. I don't feel bad about that.
Beth Demme (36:25):
Yeah. I don't think that we're virtue signaling in the negative sense of the word, where we're just saying what we think people want to hear, or where we're saying things that we think will be socially acceptable.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:36):
Or getting on the bandwagon.
Beth Demme (36:37):
Or getting on the bandwagon, right. I think we're expressing sincerely held beliefs, and that is in a way signaling our virtues, but not in an empty way. Not just as a gesture.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (36:49):
And I will say, it's actually helped me even go deeper, because when I know we're going to be talking about a topic, I will do more research about that, because I don't want to look ignorant about something, even though a lot of times I do because I haven't fully researched. I don't have the dates and times of things, but I actually do even more research for the podcast than I probably would have done as a casual observer, so I think the podcasts, we are virtue signaling. I think it's helping us be even deeper with that by doing more research and even figuring out even more support. I didn't know there was a whole Me Too organization.
Beth Demme (37:31):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (37:31):
There's a whole organization. When we did our episode about Me Too, I found it. I signed up for their newsletter. I've been following along, and also Black Lives Matter has a newsletter too. I'm not saying that I'm anything special by signing up for a newsletter. Let me clarify that. For me, I actually like to sign up for newsletters for things to stay in the know. I don't like necessarily following all these things on social media. For me, that's how I get the most information is with people's newsletters. And by the way, both of us have newsletters.
Beth Demme (38:02):
That's true. We do.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:03):
Because I believe in newsletters, and that's how I get my information. Because of the podcast, that brought me to research more, to find out more information about these organizations, to now be part of that conversation, and to read about what they're doing, what they're up to, and if there's ways I can support. I guess reverse that, are we virtue signaling, Beth, with this podcast?
Beth Demme (38:23):
I think that we are signaling our virtues, but kind of like what I said, I think in the fuller sense of that word. I don't think that we're doing it in an empty way or a bandwagon way. Just like you said, it's helped me better articulate what my virtues are, what I think about things, and what matters to me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (38:46):
Well, if you think that we are signaling our virtues, virtue signaling, or support what we're doing here on the podcast, you can actually show that support by being part of our, Buy Me a Coffee page. It is a place where we will post some behind the scenes of what's going on when we record. We'll also post our questions for reflection in PDF form, so you can buy us a coffee, or you can become a member of our page and be a monthly subscribers to that. I wanted to mention that the payment is through PayPal, so if you already have a PayPal account, it's really easy to do that through Buy Me a Coffee.
Beth Demme (39:25):
And we're really grateful for all of you who have gone to Buy Me a Coffee and done that. It makes our day every time it happens. We feel special. We feel like this is meaningful to you, and we're so grateful for the coffees. Because Steph doesn't drink coffee, for the teas, that you guys have bought us.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:41):
Beth, something we haven't talked about in a while is that we do have a voicemail number.
Beth Demme (39:51):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (39:52):
It's a voicemail and a text number, and you are welcome to call that or to text it with any feedback about any of the episodes you've heard, because the whole idea of our podcast is not that you have to listen to them in order, but you can listen to them at any point, anytime. You can re-listen to anything, wherever you're at in your life, what you're doing, and whatever seems to fit with you. Listen to it. And we actually got a voicemail recently, so I wanted to play that for us.
Beth Demme (40:22):
And I want to say, this is also from someone who, not only did she call (850) 270-3308 and leave us a voicemail, but she also went to Buy Me a Coffee, you guys, so let's hear what she has to say.
Hi, Stephan and Beth. This is Suzanne in Tallahassee. I just finished listening to, I Was That Christian with Jamie, but I had to identify with Jamie so much regarding the brainwashing with contemporary Christian music when I was a teenager, and actually when I was in middle school. The very fundamentalist church that I went to really taught that you had to exclude all of the things from your life that Jamie was talking about. You had to exclude secular music. You had to exclude secular television. You had to exclude all those secular influences, because they were dangerous, and that the only way to go grow closer to God and to follow him was to listen to Christian music. They went so far as to tell us, and I don't remember if it was the church necessarily, the youth pastor, or somebody who came to visit, youth group or whatever, but somebody ... I remember being taught that secular music had a rhythm or a beat that was contrary to your heart rhythm.
Beth Demme (41:57):
Literally your physical heart rhythm.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (41:59):
And therefore, it was so dangerous physically as well.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:06):
Wow. That's so interesting.
Beth Demme (42:08):
That is interesting. There's so much fear in that kind of teaching, and I would just say God's perfect love casts out fear.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:18):
Well, when she was saying that, it was like, "Wow, they were teaching her that she's like a China cup that's so precious."
Beth Demme (42:26):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:28):
And fragile, that if you sneeze, you're going to break. That's so interesting, and that's so opposite of how I see God and my faith. You can tell me all day long all about how there's no God, and that's not going to affect my belief at all.
Beth Demme (42:46):
Yeah. That's a very small view of God, and just what you're saying, very fragile faith. "Oh, your faith won't be able to handle this."
Stephanie Kostopoulos (42:53):
Beth Demme (42:54):
That God can't handle this, and I just worship a big God.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:00):
Yeah. He's not fragile. Thank you so much, Suzanne, for calling. That was actually really interesting. Yeah. I really enjoyed hearing that.
Beth Demme (43:08):
It makes me think that we should do an episode just on fundamentalism.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:13):
Beth Demme (43:13):
And why it upsets me.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:15):
Because that was almost what David was talking about.
Beth Demme (43:19):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:20):
Well yeah, and Jamie.
Beth Demme (43:22):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (43:22):
We're talking about within their episodes, it was like, "Wow." I think that gets put on Christianity so often, which is actually why I like to say Christ follower to really distinguish that difference, but maybe we should dig into fundamentalist versus not crazies, and things like that. Sorry. That was the wrong terminology, and Methodist, because we talk about Methodist all the time. You're a Methodist pastor, like what does all that mean? Actually, if that is something that's interesting to you as a topic, let us know. You can text us. Text us to our voicemail number, and just say, "I want to hear that topic," and we'll know what you mean. Beth will read that number again.
Beth Demme (44:02):
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:05):
Or you could email Beth.
Beth Demme (44:07):
Yeah. My email address is pretty easy. It's just my name. It's firstname.lastname@example.org. If you happen to be in your car, and you're not getting any of this right now, just go to our website, Dospod.us, D-O-S-P-O-D.us.
Stephanie Kostopoulos (44:18):
It's all there. At the end of each episode, we end with questions for reflection. These are questions based on today's show. Beth will read them and leave a little pause between for you to answer them to yourself, or you can find a PDF on our Buy Me a Coffee page.
Beth Demme (44:33):
Number one, is this your first introduction to the term virtue signaling? In what way or ways have you observed it in your life? Number two, is virtue signaling a good thing or a bad thing? How do you know? Number three, what are your virtues? Is it important to signal them? And number four, what are your thoughts on corporate virtue signaling? Have you ever stopped or started supporting a business based on the virtues it signaled?
Stephanie Kostopoulos (45:04):
This has been the Discovering Our Scars Podcast. Thank you for joining us.