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Where did our empathy go?

Updated on March 9, 2015
Katiadejuan profile image

Katia is a translator turned UX/UI designer. She is a digital nomad who loves surfing and is passionate about linguistics and sociology.

During recent years, with the rise of social media, and the internet in general, we have witnessed the power that we have as a society; the incredible things we are capable of doing when using our empathy, turning thousands of people into one single being.

We have seen many people working together to sign petitions that help others; making donations, no matter how small, just to help them find a cure for their illness, to have a decent life, or even to launch their product/business idea, supporting other people with problems through awareness videos, art projects, blog posts and more.

But, in the reality, how many of us really make use of empathy in the small things we do every day, in our daily life?

We all like to see those typical motivational posts with encouraging quotes, we all, or at least almost all of us, have at some point clicked the “fav” or “like” button and shared these posts to show everyone how much we care about people. (Yes, that’s the main reason most people share things, to show others what we like or don’t like. If we did it for ourselves, we would publish it in a private place, or wouldn’t publish it at all, not in a public place for all to see).

How many of you have ever liked or shared similar posts like these?

And yet, how many of you have led by example? How many of you have judged, criticized, made fun of, or even made a hateful comment about someone just because he or she wrote a sentence with a misspelt word or grammatical error, in the last few months? Did you ever stop to think if maybe that person was in a hurry, or was using a small device and pressed the wrong button, or was writing in a language that wasn’t his or her mother tongue, or didn’t have a proper education, or had some kind of disability?

We all like to see ourselves as good people, as someone who cares about others and strongly empathizes with them, and we probably do. When it comes to social movements, we all seem to be that person. However, most of our individual actions don’t seem to show that.

I can’t count how many times over the last month I have seen hateful comments from people about others for the most superfluous things, like not liking the same post/thing, not agreeing with something, dressing in a different way, or not having perfect teeth, or simply for having fallen over.

Judging others is a fact of life; we can’t help it, that’s how we are. We judge everything we see, be it a person, an animal, or a rock. Making these judgments, in some way, helps us to stay aware and prepared for any possible adversity. But do we really need to hate others or make them feel bad about themselves just because they aren’t like us or don’t meet our concept of what is considered to be “normal”?

We should make more use of our empathy and less use of our aggressive behavior. I believe that if we did, we would all be much happier. Wouldn’t it be great if you could do whatever it was that you liked, without fear of being ridiculed, like dancing or speaking a new language, for example?

If we really want to make significant changes in our society and create a world that is better for the coming generations, the first thing we should start working on is empathy, don’t you think?

Proofread by Emma May Price.

© 2015 Katia De Juan


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    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 2 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      Empathy we could be born with, even altruism in some degree, but this can be offset somewhat by environmental factors despite decent classically passive parents as role models. It can get pretty complicated trying to fathom out when aggression becomes part of personality's make up, at what a child might pick up negative energies that are perhaps related to survival of the alpha status!! Good work, thank you.

    • Katiadejuan profile image

      Katia De Juan 3 years ago from London, UK

      That sounds great! I'll have a look at them. Many thanks! :)

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      If you are interested, here is a Hub of mine that touches on the subject (with a link to the book). I think I have another that talks directly about the book, but I couldn't find it right off the bat.

    • Katiadejuan profile image

      Katia De Juan 3 years ago from London, UK

      I haven't read this book (but for what you mention, I plan to start reading it this month), but I had read some articles talking about that, but some months ago I read that maybe we have a bigger "part" of Bonobos in us, although I am not so sure about it.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      I read a book, "Demonic Males" (978-0395877432) a while back that goes somewhat to answering your last question. Unfortunately, man's (not necessarily woman's) nature is to be aggressive. To buy into this, you must accept evolution first because the study is about apes, not humans. But, it concludes that the behavior that was observed in Chimpanzees was passed on to humans as we evolved from them. It didn't have to be if our direct ancestor had been the Bonobo ape; their society was much more egalitarian and less aggressive (although it was more promiscuous).

    • Katiadejuan profile image

      Katia De Juan 3 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks, @tlcs! I'm happy you liked it. ^_^

      I agree, I think that the only way to really make significative changes, we should work on our empathy.

    • Katiadejuan profile image

      Katia De Juan 3 years ago from London, UK

      Thanks for your comment, @MyEsoteric. I'm glad you like it. :)

      I agree with what you say, I also think that even though we all are empathetic by nature, our aggressive trait seems to be much stronger, as from my experience, I have also seen the same results as you: that the less empathetic you are, the louder and harsher your voice is.

      It would be very interesting to know if it is due to our modern society or if this kind of behaviour is innate in humans, since if we look at the history of humanity, we can see some patterns that seem to show that this situation has prevailed throughout history.

    • tlcs profile image

      Trudy Cooper 3 years ago from Hampshire, UK

      Interesting hub. I agree, working on empathy has got to be the way forward.

    • My Esoteric profile image

      My Esoteric 3 years ago from Keystone Heights, FL

      Nice Hub. Research with extremely young infants is beginning to show most people are born empathetic; in other words, its in, to one degree or another, our genes. But, in most, I suspect, it isn't a very strong trait which allows other, less pleasant emotions to come to the surface.

      Because it is a trait we are born with, it gives me hope that by and large, most people act with empathy most of the time. It doesn't seem that way because it has been my observation that the less empathetic you are, the louder and harsher your voice is; meaning the few that are not empathic drown out those that are and make their numbers seem larger than they really are.


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