Lots of internet culture is about displaying values. I know most people call this "virtue signalling", but I'd like to be a bit more precise.

When people speak out against a genocide, it's overwhelmingly likely they're sincere, not just signalling. But it isn't virtuous to be upset about genocide – it's just as much a vice as shrugging, if it's followed up with... nothing.

If there was one element of modern internet culture I would change, it would be a refocus on the distinction between values and virtues – and don't worry, your life can still be easy, signalling virtues has some shortcuts too.

The virtue of temperance is on display in gratuitous workout selfies, and prudence is clear when you loudly declare your ignorance of Jake Paul. Frugality and industry are easy to display but the internet doesn't treat them quite the way a healthy society might.

Fair-mindedness, honesty, and tolerance get surprisingly rough feedback online these days, even from people who signal their valuing the virtues. But that particular social issue is as old as humanity. Forbearance is challenging almost by definition – nothing needs to explain why it's rare. But honesty has always been critical in enough contexts that the virtue is reserved for when you are not receiving your moral desserts.

It sort of sucks to say some virtues are hardly virtues at all if they're only exercised in exchange for a reward, yet... that's the case, at least for things like honesty. Sarah isn't a honest person because she keeps reminding you that you've yet to pay her back for bowling last Thursday. She's just a normal person who wants to be reimbursed.

I mention all of this because the internet frequently engages in these strange games of ostentatious victimhood. Clearly, the appeal of this is strong, I'm not going to try and divert that raging river – but I am going to suggest being ostentatious about your forbearance. Tweet about how you have your local dealership's business cards for when cops pull you over asking where you got such a nice car. Kindness in the face of outrageous conduct can be a spectacle all its own.

And, if at all possible, care about clickbait. Care about exercising your curiosity. Don't just parrot whatever absurd nonsense slides across your desk. Scholarship, the virtue, is very limited outside of what people are forced to produce for work, and it's easier than ever to dip your toes into that virtue's pool of resources.