Corporate Virtue Signaling, Meet Compassion Fatigue

Dr. Munr Kazmir
5 min readJun 9, 2022

Alleviating the world’s suffering is a never-ending battle. Are advertisers really prepared to fight it?

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash.

Where once there were many yard signs, banners and tee-shirts, now there are few: “Pray for Ukraine,” “Support Ukraine,” and, “Get Out Putin!” and the irascibly obscene, “Puck Futin.”

It isn’t that Americans don’t still care about Ukraine: They do. Dollars continue to pour into ongoing humanitarian efforts in Ukraine. The media landscape remains filled with think pieces and op-eds alternately entertaining the notion Ukraine might need to make land concessions in order to end the conflict and expressing outrage at the very idea.

But the media landscape is, as President Joe Biden reminded America last night, not unlike a minefield of clickbait and sensationalist journalism these days. The Weekly World News is what sells in today’s marketplace and hawkers are clogging up the airwaves with a near-constant inundation of negative news stories.

A steady drum-beat of doomsayers have pounded the delicate sensibilities of our unwary populace into a pretzel of anxiety and existential dread over the past few years in particular.

Censorship? We should be so lucky.

So it isn’t that interest in Ukraine has waned, and with it all those advertising campaigns centered around the conflict; it’s that other things have happened. Other suffering, other terrors; gun violence, mass murder, natural disasters and terrorist attacks have intruded.

It isn’t that people don’t care; it’s that they often care too much and are overwhelmed by the magnitude of suffering in the world. The Information Age, the internet, and social media have brought us into close grips with enough horrific photos, videos, and first-hand accounts to send the average person into hysterics.

The number of things vying for our compassion is stunning. There are just so many, it’s never ending. Saving the environment from wanton human destruction, reforming systems of injustice, reversing deforestation and loss of animal habitat worldwide, ending violent conflicts and wars, preventing humankind from being swallowed up in an ocean of single-use plastics; and on and on without end.