#NoDAPL, Empathy, and Facebook

The use of empathy through solidarity on social media has really changed the face of how people have been interacting with important issues. The most pertinent and one that I’m seeing inundating my own feed in the most positive way is what is going on in Indian Rock right now. This is obviously not the first time this is happening, but I find it to be a unique case of feeling compassion for a group of people that has been able to gain an incredible amount of awareness through social media disruptions that has forced mainstream media to start covering it.

E.J. Horberg and Dacher Keltner in their publication “Passions for justice” call out, “A special quality of compassion that may shed light on these studies is the extension of caring and concern to individuals far removed from the self.” Horberg and Keltner actively hit on the point that people feel motivated to join social movements when these movements breed a sense of compassion from these stakeholders that might bring up both active and passive participation. The pinpointing of certain emotions like compassion, guilt, responsibility, and empathy are even more targeted through social media. As people are seeing more of the pain that entire population is going through to protect their land and how enforcers are treating them, they are experiencing essentially Global Lives is trying to do with their project where raw social footage is being shared and people are realizing what it means to live in the life.

As for this current movement of checking in to Facebook, there has been numerous messages floating around social media saying that police officers are filing through Facebook check-ins to pinpoint protestors, so having people check in from other places would confuse the officers and protect actual lives. Although movements are not taking responsibility for sharing this message, they are expressing gratitude in the influx of solidarity and support they are receiving. It doesn’t take that much for people to click a button and express their empathy, but is empathy through slacktivism actually helpful? Hopefully, we will see repercussions in a couple of days.


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