The Boston Globe recently ran a story about research that shows how young people have less empathy now than they did even a generation ago. You can read the whole article on my facebook fanpage.
I for one, do not need studies like this to substantiate this point!
It correlates, and to a large extent, supports, what I wrote about bullying last week. Though this deserves a much longer commentary, let me just offer this: Every time you answer your cell phone (which is on and on you everywhere you go), every timeyou read and reply to a text, every time you go on your computer, check your facebook, watch TV, etc, where is your attention – inside yourself or on others? People spend on average 6 hours a day doing these things – almost half their waking lives.
Just think about what it is like when you are with someone and they answer their phone and make you wait there and listen to their conversation.
You are the same way when you do this.
You are not paying attention to others, but rather making a priority of attending to your own interests.
I first realized this on an airplane years ago when a man on a cell phone call was talking so loud on his phone and had no recognition whatsoever of how disrespectful it was to everyone around him. I asked him to lower his voice and he looked at me as if I was obnoxiously rude for interrupting his call that was interrupting all of us!
It’s only happened 10,000 times since then – particularly with mom’s and Nannies (and Dad’s!) at the playground who are on their phones while their kids are falling off play equipment and hurting themselves. Twice now I’ve been there with my daughter while kids have fallen and actually needed medical care – both times, the parent was absorbed in a cell phone call instead of watching their kids who were doing dangerous things.
Our kids are growing up in a world where this is not only being modeled for them, but that they are being entrained to…
Now try this experiment: watch a tv show on popular tv and notice how many times in the half hour there is sarcasm, negativity, put-downs, etc. Then realize that your kids, if they are watching Disney, Nickelodeon, etc are being exposed to this same onslaught of sarcasm, negativity, put-downs – just watch kid’s TV and you’ll see.
We have become a culture of self-absorption, where sarcasm and cutting criticism have become an enormous force and presence. It is so present as to be ubiquitous. How can we expect our kids to be growing into deeply empathic, “other” oriented people when it is not be modeled for them in most places where they turn, including in many cases, inside their own homes?
I may sound cynical and exaggerated, and perhaps I am a little… but I think you’ll find that with an honest assessment of things, that what I am saying here is far more realistic than not.
What do you think?