The End Of Empathy

Nov 2005
7,850
2,415
California
#1
Militia leader Ammon Bundy, famous for leading an armed standoff in Oregon, had a tender moment in November of last year. He recorded a Facebook post saying that perhaps President Trump's characterization of the migrant caravan on the U.S.-Mexico border was somewhat broad. Maybe they weren't all criminals, he said. "What about those who have come here for reasons of need?"

Bundy did not say he was breaking with Trump. He just asked his followers to put themselves in the shoes of "the fathers, the mothers, the children" who came to escape violence. It was a call for a truce grounded in empathy, the kind you might hear in a war zone, say, or an Easter Sunday sermon. Still, it was met with a swift and rageful response from his followers, so overwhelming that within days, Bundy decided to quit Facebook.

In an earlier era, Bundy's appeal might have resonated. But he failed to tune in to a critical shift in American culture — one that a handful of researchers have been tracking, with some alarm, for the past decade or so. Americans these days seem to be losing their appetite for empathy, especially the walk-a-mile-in-someone's-shoes Easter Sunday morning kind.

When I was growing up in the '70s, empathy was all the rage. The term was coined in 1908; then, social scientists and psychologists started more aggressively pushing the concept into the culture after World War II, basically out of fear. The idea was that we were all going to kill each other with nuclear weapons — or learn to see the world through each other's eyes. In my elementary school in the 1970s, which was not progressive or mushy in any way, we wrote letters to pretend Russian pen pals to teach us to open our hearts to our enemies.

And not just enemies. Civil rights activists had also picked up on the idea. Kenneth Clark, a social scientist and civil rights activist, half-jokingly proposed that people in power all be required to take an "empathy pill" so they could make better decisions. His hope was that people with power and privilege would one day inhabit the realities of people without power, not from the safe, noblesse oblige distance of pity, but from the inside. An evolved person was an empathetic person, choosing understanding over fear.

Then, more than a decade ago, a certain suspicion of empathy started to creep in, particularly among young people. One of the first people to notice was Sara Konrath, an associate professor and researcher at Indiana University. Since the late 1960s, researchers have surveyed young people on their levels of empathy, testing their agreement with statements such as: "It's not really my problem if others are in trouble and need help" or "Before criticizing somebody I try to imagine how I would feel if I were in their place."

Konrath collected decades of studies and noticed a very obvious pattern. Starting around 2000, the line starts to slide. More students say it's not their problem to help people in trouble, not their job to see the world from someone else's perspective. By 2009, on all the standard measures, Konrath found, young people on average measure 40 percent less empathetic than my own generation — 40 percent!

It's strange to think of empathy – a natural human impulse — as fluctuating in this way, moving up and down like consumer confidence. But that's what happened. Young people just started questioning what my elementary school teachers had taught me.

Their feeling was: Why should they put themselves in the shoes of someone who was not them, much less someone they thought was harmful? In fact, cutting someone off from empathy was the positive value, a way to make a stand.

So, for example, when the wife of white nationalist Richard Spencer recently told BuzzFeed he had abused her, the question debated on the lefty Internet was: Why should we care that some woman who chose to ally herself with a nasty racist got herself hurt? Why waste empathy on that? (Spencer, in a court filing, denies all her allegations.)

The new rule for empathy seems to be: reserve it, not for your "enemies," but for the people you believe are hurt, or you have decided need it the most. Empathy, but just for your own team. And empathizing with the other team? That's practically a taboo.
The End Of Empathy

We used to live in an age where we could appreciate the perspective from "the other side" more.

Today, there is more of a concern with alienating the extreme who are more vocal.
The below is an example of a true leader.

But today, a significant chunk of the population adore a president who not only seems sorely limited for empathy across the aisle, he relishes in antagonism!
 
Mar 2019
1,078
247
Texas
#2
The End Of Empathy

We used to live in an age where we could appreciate the perspective from "the other side" more.

Today, there is more of a concern with alienating the extreme who are more vocal.
The below is an example of a true leader.

But today, a significant chunk of the population adore a president who not only seems sorely limited for empathy across the aisle, he relishes in antagonism!
Makes sense that when a nation is advocating for killing babies and taking away men's rights while ignoring reality that that same nation would loose their empathy.
 
Nov 2005
7,850
2,415
California
#4
Makes sense that when a nation is advocating for killing babies and taking away men's rights while ignoring reality that that same nation would loose their empathy.
Nobody is advocating killing babies. A baby is a child that has been born. It's a fetus before its born.
Nobody is advocating taking away men's rights. You're asking to be able to inflict a choice upon a woman's body based on the fact that the man gave her sperm.


Convenient empathy is nothing other than self serving political fodder.
Funny how you want more empathy and then you tout a man who was pro-life.
check yo self
You present a perfect example of lack of empathy.

The anti-abortion (as in all abortion) is a minority position in this country. Only 18% currently believe that abortion should be illegal in all situations.
You're essentially proclaiming that 82% of this country are happy "killing babies". This is a b.s. claim. Your perspective is in the minority and you refuse to try to comprehend other positions...
 
Mar 2019
1,078
247
Texas
#5
Nobody is advocating killing babies. A baby is a child that has been born. It's a fetus before its born.
Nobody is advocating taking away men's rights. You're asking to be able to inflict a choice upon a woman's body based on the fact that the man gave her sperm.



You present a perfect example of lack of empathy.

The anti-abortion (as in all abortion) is a minority position in this country. Only 18% currently believe that abortion should be illegal in all situations.
You're essentially proclaiming that 82% of this country are happy "killing babies". This is a b.s. claim. Your perspective is in the minority and you refuse to try to comprehend other positions...
more msm bullcrap!

You should figure out what empathy really is.

It is not something that should be used when convenient to serve your political leanings.

Nice try though.