The paradox is the anti-social nature of social networking. The computer screen isolates the person even as the person is trying to connect. The contrary is also the case. The screen connects the person when the person wants to be alone, rudely announcing an incoming message by beeping, demanding one’s attention. Sometimes the screen brings out the anti-social tendencies instead of the pro-social ones, enabling one to be inauthentic, hiding behind a false self.
Since the bullying is a boundary violation, the way to reestablish empathy and order (where “order” means common courtesy) is to reestablish the boundary between persons.
The ontological definition of empathy as “being in the presence of another human being without anything else added” – anything else such as judgment, evaluation, memory, desire, hostility, and the many factors that make us unavailable to be in relationship. Though Gillian Isaacs Russell uses the word “empathy” in a specific psychological sense, I would argue that her work on “presence” is consistent with and contributes to an enlarged sense of empathic relatedness that builds community.
Professor Turkle, Sherry, launches a Jeremiad – remember the Prophet Jeremiah? – against buzzing, beeping, interrupting devices, which give us acquired attention deficit, and carries her concerns in the direction of online therapy. If empathy is being copresent with another person, where is the empathy online? Find out in the engaging conversation between Lou and Arnon about Sherry’s penetrating and incisive work!
that make organizations successful are not always the qualities that enhance their empathy. Hear me say it, and not for the last time: the things that make us good at business, including the corporate transformation of American medicine and education, do not always expand our empathy. What to do about it? The battle is joined. The recommendation? Let your customers, constituents, or stake-holders train you in empathy: Realize that if you do not respond empathically, the customers are just going to go quietly to the competitor that does. Empathy is good for business. If the customer has a complaint that he is having trouble expressing, then use one’s listening skills to get to the bottom of things.
curate. Cross the street away from the neighbor to “down regulate” your empathy, and experience less empathic distress; and cross the street towards your neighbor to expand your empathy in the direction of creating an inclusive community of persons, who recognize the value of cooperation.
A scientist has not been burned at the stake in over 350 years – and even then it was Giordano Bruno, not Galileo. Find out how Professor Alice Dreger (PhD) become an advocate for survivors of intersex sexual reassignment surgery and she becomes a strong candidate to be burned in effigy by those for whom she was advocating.
Empathy is never needed more than when it seems there is no time for it. Empathy is never needed more than when it seems the budget does not allow for it. Empathy is never needed more than when the cynicism and resignation about life, whether in the family or the corporate jungle, are so thick you can’t catch your breath.
EDITED OUT while being assessed for publication: Review: The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir by Sherry Turkle
The short review: the title, The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir (Sherry Turkle New York: Penguin Press, 2021, 357 pp.) reveals that empathy lives, comes forth, in empathy’s breakdowns and failings. Empathy often emerges in clarifying a lack of empathy. This work might have been entitled, less elegantly, “The Lack of Empathy Diaries.” I found the book to be a compellingly written, even a page-turner at times, highly recommended, but, caution, this is not a “soft ball” review.”
One does not need a philosopher to tell one what empathy is. What then does one need? How about a folktale, a fairy tale, a Märchen? Rather than start with a definition of empathy, my proposal is to start by telling a couple of stories, in which empathy (and its breakdown) plays a crucial role. Both stories are anonymous folktales from the collection edited by the Brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The distilled wisdom of the ages accumulated in traditional anonymous narratives will do nicely. Now available to listen on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/6pCIwUknKqxZwIqau0m1YW