Why is there no empathy in this ever connected world?
I have been out of my blog for a little while as I have been focussing on my personal health and have only posted what I would consider reactive posts in the last few months and this one isn’t going to be any different. I wanted to get this out there because as a person who feels deep empathy for her fellow humans and all on this planet the prevalence of online trolls makes me wonder, where is the empathy? Even the nicest people can often be drawn into becoming out of touch of understanding that the person they are attacking via a computer or phone is actually a human with real feelings. Often, people, these days hide behind keyboards to say things they wouldn’t dare say in public.
#putyourblazersout is not just showing support for one person but perpetuating ridicule on another.
You see right now (at the time this was written) the internet, in Australia at least, is going mental over a leaked video where a female news presenter is seen berating a co-worker in another studio about their clothing and ordering her to put a jacket on. The explanation for the adjustment of her co-worker’s wardrobe is that the wardrobe department would go crazy to see that the three women, the two women who are the focus of the viral video and another none of which are in the same studio, due to appear in the next segment weren’t all wearing white tops.
There has been a lot of comments being made about the whole situation including a trending hashtag on Twitter #putyourblazersonforjulie which just a cursory look at the feed of this hashtag will show you how quickly people are to find a villain. There is so much hate and negativity towards the newsreader at the centre of the whole debacle Amber Sherlock and a lot of sympathy towards her colleague Julie Snook. Now don’t get me wrong any person speaking to another person in the manner that Sherlock spoke to Snook is unacceptable the way Sherlock has been treated in the public sphere is just as unacceptable.
To begin with when I saw the news stories (and I am still shocked this is what is classed as news) and social media posts about the incident my focus was mainly on ‘why the hell did it matter that they were all wearing white? We don’t question male newsreaders when they all wear black suits with white shirts and the same colour tie.’ But as the story continued to trend on multiple social media platforms and I started to see some of the ugliness that was getting thrown at Sherlock for the incident a whole other set of questions rolled over me. How would all these people female or male feel if that was them, a heated disagreement with a colleague became public fodder for all to see and have their own opinions on. How would you feel if that maybe wasn’t you but your wife, your sister, your mother? One day they are just doing their job and the next they could be classed as one of the most hated people in the country.
Bullying from a computer is still bullying, and it hurts.
This isn’t the first, nor will it be the last, time this sort of witch hunt happens in this the internet age, it is the age of open access to people in the spotlight we all seem to think we are allowed to judge them on a higher level than what we would judge them face to face. With platforms like Facebook and Twitter, we have upped the game of freedom of speech but there is a sharp edge to freedom of speech, not that I would ever want to infringe on this human right, having these open platforms means there is no filter. All the information and voices get through, Twitter, in particular, is a space that people use the anonymity of a username to say things most wouldn’t say to someones face. Why do people think that it’s ok to abuse and insult people online? Do they not realise that there is an actual person, an actual human being with feelings behind this internet profile you feel the need to attack? Or the person in the news article that you feel it appropriate to call names?
Probably the most prominent example of this complete lack of empathy in the internet age was the tragic suicide of Charlotte Dawson. Dawson had fought battles with depression throughout her life and was open about this during her TV career and before she had this career she was a model so would have had her fair share of criticism. For years before her death, however, she was the target of some very heinous internet trolls which ultimately led to her falling back into a battle with depression she made one attempt at suicide in 2012 but thankfully recovered and then took on the trolls. But in the end, it all just go too much and she was found dead in her apartment in 2014 after having consumed a cocktail of drugs and alcohol.
No matter what opinion you may have about any particular person in the spotlight you should never feel it’s ok to demean, insult or in any other way treat another human being like they are less than you. There needs to be a bigger push for people to get back in touch with their empathy, in touch with that part of them inside themselves that allows them to relate to another human being or animal. We need to remember that even though they are sitting safely behind a computer screen they are still saying these things to another human on the other side of that computer screen.
Teach our kids by not participating, or else we won’t be able to help them.
These actions and situations are the new forms of bullying used by people of all ages but there is a huge issue amongst teens. You see it used to be that you only had to deal with bully’s at school, once you went home or the school day ended you would usually get some form of respite, now, however, you don’t. The bullying follows you, online, on your phone and enters all aspects of your life.
The use of these new technologies by teens and younger children to inflict continuous pain and humiliation on their peers has become a huge problem. Parents like usual would love to help their children but are often not savvy enough on this new technology to properly assist. Yes, you may use Facebook or WhatsApp or Twitter but as these communication tools change and evolve and new ones emerge you will often become out of touch just as quickly as you learn how to use them. On top of this as this generation were raised in a world that revolves around the internet and how easily it can be used, and misused, to communicate with others they often know tricks to do so without the watchful eye of their parents knowing.
I am a massive consumer of social media and media in general and even as a ‘Millenial’ I still would happily admit that a 13 or 15 or 17 year old would know how to do things on these networks that I don’t. I am grateful for not having to grow up in this new world or always being connected without making real connections and am ever fearful for my nieces, nephew, friends and families children and mine (if I have some one day) because as much as this is an issue now, as the technology evolves and more and new outlets come to life it will no longer be something anyone who wasn’t raised in it can keep up with.
In 2003 and again in 2016 The black Eyed Peas asked Where is the love? My question is where is the empathy?