Empathy Online? Not this week.

A Side Bar Discussion

This week, I was planning on focusing on how empathy can be taught online using simulations like Hunger 101. We’ll cover that soon. We’re going to take a detour, instead.

In all honesty, I, like many of you, I imagine, am having a very difficult time focusing on the topic of empathy. Why? I keep seeing the complete opposite occurring. We are losing empathy in such large public ways, and watching this playing out online is disheartening at best.

This week has offered us many examples. We as a Nation are watching political theatre to the extreme that completely ignores empathy at seemingly any level. For our first example, when our elected officials can make a mockery of the system that should be protecting citizens’ access to healthcare, they are no longer able to put themselves in anyone’s shoes but their own. The online discussions around healthcare are also lacking empathy. Have you seen anyone in your own news feeds actively attempting to see someone else’s point of view?

In another distressing episode of a complete lack of empathy, we have the example of President Trump’s Tweet attempting to ban transgender individual from serving in the military and the online fallout and fights that have come along with this statement. First, let’s acknowledge that no matter where you fall on the issue, a Tweet banning a full category of people is possibly the least empathetic way to go about this.

On a positive note, I’ve watched two different news feeds of friends go 30 plus comments back and forth with the ultimate result being rather civil discourse and each party promising to educate themselves more on the issue. This: Empathy in action.

Debate, try to see the other side and view, and then educate yourself as needed. See more empathy in action, specifically on this issue: Look at this article discussing what it was like this week from a transgender point of view.

Finally, as I wonder about the state of empathy in our online world, I leave you with this very important and timely piece of writing:

Dan Rather On Why America Needs More Empathy

A Representation — Credit

The Empathy Project is the Capstone Project of Matt Achhammer, a student in the Emerging Media Master’s program at Loyola University Maryland. I invite you to join me in this discussion here and on social media through Facebook and Twitter. Please feel welcome to suggest topics, provide examples, and share advice or your own stories along the way.