Signaling Guilt

Does anyone feel “signaling guilt”?

When I have to write something like a CV/​Resume/​essay for the purpose of admission into a high-status institution (e.g., academia, high-paying job), I feel an insane amount of ugh-field and find myself unable to properly motivate myself into actually focusing on it.

All of it just feels … dishonest.

It gets worse with more competitive positions; just good ol’ Moloch doing what it’s good at: race-to-the-bottom, throwing away everything of value for the sake of slightly increasing competitiveness at the margin, etc.

Every time when I have to (fake intentions and emotions /​ intentionally distort my value system /​ signal fake compliance /​ pander to the reviewers by adopting their political stance and lingo /​ do something solely for the sake of signaling), it feels like I’m corrupting my “soul” via some irreversible process.

Perhaps the concept of “signaling” is infohazardous—I wasn’t like this a couple years ago, back when I unconsciously optimized everything for the sole purpose of “appearing good in my resume,” completely guilt-free.

Not any more. And no one around me seems to get it.

These days I find myself … just baffled, as to how my colleagues can even do what they’re doing while staying sane. Entire lives, lived without a single shred of real substance, just pure, pure signaling. I read the Moral mazes and understand how institutions select for lizards not actual living-breathing-humans—

And I tried so many things—artificially pumping my short-term motivation with stimulants, outsourcing my writings to GPT-3, trying to compartmentalize my life—none of them work consistently, at least for me.

The only thing that’s keeping me going at this point is the tiny, tiny positive-reinforcment from the (false) belief that “I am a rare instance of an actual living-breathing-human who is heroically resisting the selection pressures and fighting against the Evil and Immoral Lizards.

Not for so long. (did I mention that I’m actually supposed to be editing my resume right now?)

Perhaps people actually do feel these signaling guilt but somehow manage to pull themselves together.

Perhaps this is just me conflating my normal akrasia and blaming it on The System.

Perhaps I’m just not Machiavellian enough.
In that case, well, too bad!