Friday, April 18, 2014

What I’ve learned about empathy

After researching empathy, the most important thing that I have learned is that emotion recognition, from a cognitive perspective, is not the most important part of bonding with another human being.  For the most part, we can recognize when someone else is suffering.  Even across cultures the face of suffering is the same.  Granted, in some cultures the norm is to hide negative emotions, especially in deference to social harmony.  But we can usually tell from faces whether or not someone is in pain, physically or emotionally.  The true obstacle to bonding, bridging, or compassion is the feeling of caring about the other.  Two big obstacles come to mind when considering the dilemma in a modern, urbanized world.  One is the distractions that we self-inflict, including multitasking, that removes us from here-and-now, face-to-face connection.  The second is the guilt or ignorance associated with not knowing what to do after one does bond or recognize the humanity of another person who is suffering, distraught, or could use assistance.  We think we have to do something and we fear it is something we don’t want to do.  We feel guilty because of the disparity between our income level or race or “privileged” status in comparison to the “other” person.  It doesn’t occur to most people that just recognizing and approving of another person as a person is a radical step towards helping.  Of course, this enters into another debate about taking action versus doing nothing, but I would argue that recognition and approval would help people out in many ways, if only pertaining to a sense of belonging and perceived normalcy.  

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Dangers of Multitasking

Here is a video that talks about the dangers of multitasking, with yours truly: