Empathy is Dead, Grab the Defibrillator

I’m the kind of person who notices all the internal problems with society. No society is perfect, but that shouldn’t mean that we can’t improve ourselves and hope that our personal changes ripple onto others.

Something that’s really present in the world currently is the lack of empathy surrounding us. However, I’m not the only one saying this. At the release of their track “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)”, British pop-punk band As It Is spoke about the concept of the song. They said,

“This song and video tackle toxic masculinity, gender expectations and the long overdue need to rebel and speak out against outdated ideals that to this day continue to threaten individuality. The eponymous ‘stigma’ is that sense of blemish and shame so often associated with showing and expressing emotion, that causes too many to hide who they are…in these increasingly disconnected times, where empathy is seemingly on a decline at many levels of everyday modern life, it is vital to stand up against such outdated tropes.”

While their goal is on a slightly different path than mine, stigma as a whole and apathy are both things that need to die.

Further proving that I’m not alone in my thinking, synth-pop band CHVRCHES released an album called Love is Dead, an album that directly highlights the death of empathy. In an interview with The Fader, lead singer Lauren Mayberry spoke about empathy, apathy and where it all comes from.

“The best thing about where we are right now is people being conscious and caring about each other and doing things with a purpose, and the worst things are the apathy and lack of ability to engage and empathise with each other…If people are really hateful and disgusting in the way they treat other people, that probably came from a hurt place; but then, when does it stop? When does this spiral end?”

empathy

Inspired by both of these artists, an idea formed. Every month, I’ll write a short story tackling a subject that isn’t often spoken about and simultaneously, re-educating people on how to feel empathy. Emotional intelligence is being pried from our hearts without our knowledge, we have to stop it before our hearts freeze over and we become the robots that capitalism is training us to be.

Unfortunately, this decline in empathy was predicted 8 years ago. Psychologist Sara Konrath conducted a study on American college students and the results worried her about the future of empathy. Among concerns about the increase in narcissism and overall decrease in empathy, she said this:

“It’s true that the average empathy score still hovers above the midpoint of the scale, but empathy is still declining substantially, and at a faster rate in more recent years. If recent trends continue, this could eventually translate into broader societal problems.”

If that’s not motivation to make a change, I’m not sure what is.

If empathy is stepping into someone else’s shoes, what better way to do that than through writing, literally being able to feel another’s pain as your own. That’s what this series is about, giving empathy a kick-start back into people’s hearts, your heart.

The series will go on for as long as there’s something to write about, any topic that deserves a few minutes to understand will join the series. Rather than having a central character with defining characteristics, the story will be told from a perspective that is easy to imagine as yourself in an attempt to replicate real-world empathy.

The series will begin on the 22nd of August with the release of the first story.

You can find the lyrics to “The Stigma (Boys Don’t Cry)” and Love is Dead, on Genius.

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