One thing I can't unsee is virtue-signalling, and how it contributes to the degeneracy of a nation's culture. What is this? Well, this excerpt from Mike Cernovich's blog sums it up nicely:
Virtue signaling as status signaling.
A quick primer on status signals.
Did you know people can tell how much you’re worth and what your education level is based on how you look? We apes are constantly sending off signals of our social status. You can look at a man and tell if he’s an alpha or beta. You can look at his watch to place him inside an income bracket.
Indeed, I am able to spot online frauds easily based on the status signals they send off. Self-proclaimed ballers talked about shopping for a Michael Kors watch. Baller don’t buy that brand. People earning $60,000 to $80,000 do. (Those in higher income brackets would buy a Rolex, or if they wanted to send off another status signal, a Patek Philippe.)
A quick primer on virtue signals.
Virtue signaling is a form of status signaling. When you say the right things, you signal to others that you belong to the right social class.
When you say things like, “I hate racism,” you are sending a message to the left. “I’m a good boy. I’m not like those flyover state red necks. Please let me remain part of your club.”
Why are conservative pundits (and most everyone else who writes) terrified of being called racist, sexist, homophobic, or some other type of bigot? It’s not because they’d lose their jobs or readers. After all, the media insults the readers of National Review all day. Readers would not revolt if the mainstream media accused an NRO blogger of racism. As Trump’s rise has shown, readers would love the conservative pundits even more.
Conservatives are caught in a status game, and the left controls this game. SJWs control the highest status publications like the New York Times, and liberals run the New York Publishing houses.
(Disclosure: The underlining above is mine, in lieu of fucking with the font size, as is the italics; the rest is his.)
This is a subset of a larger known phenonemon, explained in this Reddit comment from a thread at /r/rpg (which you can find here):
(The original poster said: "When I first played D&D the DM was running another game at the same time. He said the game I was in was more of a dungeon crawl, while the other game was more about serious roleplaying.")
(This is where the comment, by user Reddit4Play, begins.) Well, let me tell you. Every player there, myself included, was suddenly in favor of "serious roleplaying," and wanted little to do with "a dungeon crawl". And yet, today, I think dungeon crawls are more fun, and I'm pretty sure I did all along without knowing it. This sounds just like your problem, so what happened?
This experience is actually rooted in a psychological effect that was discovered by Howard Moskowitz. He used it to create the concept of horizontal product segmentation (e.g. cherry Pepsi, vanilla Pepsi, etc. instead of just regular Pepsi) that is ubiquitous in food products today. However, it's the effect itself that we care about.
What Howard found in his research was that if, for example, you asked people what kind of coffee they thought was best they'd say something like "dark, rich, hearty roast." And yet, when you provided them with weak, milky coffee and dark, strong coffee, around 75% of people rated the weak, milky coffee as better.
The exact same effect is visible in people's Netflix queues: tons of people have had Citizen Kane in their Netflix queue literally for years alongside dozens of other classic films and dramas, but every time they watch Netflix they watch Arrow or 21 Jump Street or something. Additionally, the number of people who claim to like strong, robust beer flavors absolutely does not explain the success of weak American lite beers. And so on and so on.
The key to this effect is that, when prompted for the thing they like best, people will display that they like the thing their culture tells them is the cool thing - the thing the connoisseur likes, and that the cultural critic endorses - because subconsciously they want to fit in. But when it comes time to actually use a product and have an experience with it, they'll pick the one they personally enjoy every time. This explains why Starbucks is so successful despite selling weak coffee in a world where most people will tell you they like dark coffee (and the same goes for the beer industry). It explains why people have classic dramas on their Netflix queue while watching comedies and TV procedurals. It explains why everyone playing with me almost a decade ago suddenly was really into "serious roleplaying".
And, most importantly, it explains why your players tell you they enjoy serious roleplaying and then... mostly don't. For them it's probably something they do as a change of pace, and not actually their preferred method of play.
(Disclosure: The link above is in the linked comment. Italics are mine.)
So, what does this mean? Most of you say one thing, while doing another; that's hypocrisy, making you a hypocrite. Why do you do this? For the reasons explained: to maintain or increase your social status, signalling via what you say (verbal and otherwise) to others that you conform to whatever the Narrative is about that thing. You do this to avoid being ostracized, and therefore getting access to things you believe (falsly) you can't do without cut off.
From the most petty of things (such as saying you want some hipster bullshit style of tabletop RPG, but actually doing the style that built the medium up from nothing into the major cultural influence it remains today), to those most serious (saying you're against the war to win votes, and then waging wars left and right once in office), you folks do this- and you may not even be aware of it, it's that ingrained.
Hypocrisy is a form of lying, and lying is theft of the truth. Stealing the truth contributes to social degeneracy by eroding the integrity of the information you get from others, information you rely upon to perform as best you can to fulfill your obligations and pursue your objectives. It's commonplace because its acceptance allows people to avoid the lawful consequences of their stupidity, when suffering them would instead be far more effective in stamping out the stupidity (and the baleful effects it has) upon people.
The remedy is simple: to be honest with yourself in the most ruthless manner possible. In short, OWN THAT SHIT! It's what you really believe, what you really want, how you really are. Fair or foul, owning that shit is far superior to lying to yourself about it because it does remove a critical weakness that others who want to use and consume you would otherwise wield against you.
You can't own Mike Cernovich. He's ruthlessly honest with himself. You can't own Vox Day. He's ruthlessly honestly with himself. Because they are that honest with themselves, they can be honest with others--with you--because they don't give a fuck about your status-dancing and social-shaming shit. This plays into their anti-fragility, and their ability to fail faster; they can just act on reality as it is and not suffer through bullshit dogma filters that fuck with their ability to be effective. Couple that with alternative routes to secure resources they require, alternatives that others can't fuck with because they don't jump on command, and they present a threat to such a sick society as yours which is obsessed with signalling. Conquer your fear, be honest with yourself, and you'll find a way to be great again in ways that matter.