Empathy, Death And The Queen Getting Fist-Bumped!

Did the human race exhibit more compassion towards others in the past?
We’ve all heard accounts of battle-hardened veterans who witnessed specific horrors during a war.
It seems like there’s a tipping point of “noticing” for even the toughest people.
A soldier by implication literally signs up to destroy and kill.
As blunt as it sounds, that is the truth.
The reasons for signing up is another thing.
But irrespective of that, the job description is what it is.

So when a soldier who has been in the thick of the fight stops to take notice we can’t help but wonder what he saw.
Within this context I often look at callous remarks about human suffering.
More often than not these remarks are seen on “Social Media.”
And the question springs to mind, “what would it take for people to start recognizing human suffering?”

Personally I don’t have any hope for many Social Media platforms to ever be anything more than a narcissistic outlet for personal opinion.

Recently on a news-feed I looked at articles lumped together.
Next to a heart breaking depiction of human anguish and loss I saw tips for buying a new phone.
Under the picture of a woman mourning her loss I saw some or other inane drivel about Trump “fist-bumping” The Queen.
And last but not least, a roundup of the day’s sport.
I’m definitely not saying you shouldn’t read up on topics that interest you.
If the Queen’s story interests you, then by all means… Read all about it.
It is hilarious when seen for what it is!
The big problem here is mostly that we are saturated with information.
Human tragedy is diluted and silenced by a thunderous wave of mundane information.
There is still outrage, but the outrage is often focused on events that speak to the observer, rather than a focus on the actual tragedy that unfolds.
Even during these tragedies opinions are polarized and fighting ensues around the periphery of the tragedy.
Racial, political and economical issues among others are dragged into the topic which in turn causes debates that in turn elicit more debates.
Lately I find myself moving away from commenting altogether.
Lest I become part of the phenomenon that dilutes the real message within the article.

However, I also believe that the negative is essential for the positive to function.
Within the cesspool of unrelated and volatile comments I do notice people who are starting to rebel against the tendency to digress from the real topic.
If the negative is writing vitriolic comments intended to hurt then perhaps the negative is abstinence from writing comments.
For even the perceived positive comments also get attacked by abrasive intent.
Not even something as simple as paying respects, writing ‘condolences’ is left unscathed.
If the mob feels that a certain person had no right to pay respects, that comment will be shredded!
The writer who added a positive blip is often mercilessly chastised.

But back to the positive!
Wherever I go in the offline world I’m starting to pick up a vibe…a certain disdain for much of what was seen as gospel in the online realm.
The conundrum we face is that the online world is very visible regarding that which it preaches.
On a self-contained ecosystem such as Twitter the negative appears to rule.
That only means that the positive needs to exist, in equal parts, but not necessarily within the same platform.

These days I make it a point to talk to people in the offline world.
Making contact and showing real interest in “who” someone else is.
When you make real contact empathy becomes possible.

The battle-hardened collective that has been fighting throughout the centuries often rendered gut wrenching accounts regarding a moment of clarity when they saw themselves in the eyes of the enemy… Up close.
Within that moment of truth, the real impact of a war is felt, when the soldier realizes he is killing someone who could’ve been his own son, or someone from his own platoon or even someone whom he feels resembles himself.

When you see yourself reflected in the human tragedy that unfolds in the media, only then can you feel any form of empathy.
Only when you realize you are in fact “the other.”

As far as the media, fake news, outrage and sensationalism is concerned…
I have no idea how to combat the increasing sense of jaded emotion I perceive.
All I do know is that the antithesis, the positive side needs to be true.
And I can be an ever-growing part of the side that needn’t necessarily discard Social Media, but rather see it for what it is, or isn’t… And knowing when to let it go!
That is the moment within which you start noticing The Positive!

Packaged Outrage

I remember watching the bottling process in a factory that manufactured bleach.
One tube fed the bleach to the branded bottle and another tube redirected bleach to some or other store’s “House brand.”
Same Bleach, different branding.
When I look at the news and the puerile regurgitated issues on Twitter I see the same thing.
We’re living in the age of bottled and packaged outrage.
It feels like all the “issues” are flowing into one homogenous tube.
Real social issues get sidelined in favour of popular gossip and banal videos that often only serve to illustrate stupidity and human failings.

Ok, so despite appeals to the better nature angels of someone’s nature a “package” gets released.
What then?
Many of these “viral outrage videos” get lost in a torrid cesspool of comments.
Generalization rules supreme—I seldom see comments that inquire instead of merely following the herd.
Make no mistake though, the herd breaks the internet, destroys lives and spawns a thousand memes…
At times creating a secondary outrage that often outshines the original.
But only until the next “Outrage package” is taken from the shelf.
Then in a flash we experience that Groundhog Day feeling again.
Honestly, I struggle to keep track of all the outrage I observe on a daily basis!

Outrage has become ubiquitous, especially in the online world.
And we appear to be struggling to comprehend which ones are cleverly engineered for maximum impact, and which ones should really warrant any attention.
Naturally there are exposes that definitely need to see the light.
And many social media campaigns have actually succeeded in bringing atrocities to light, and thereby putting an end to them.

Unfortunately its a personal desire to be relevant that fuels a lot of posts…
Have you ever noticed how the original poster’s caption has a way of swaying the adudience to veer off into a set direction.
Often a photo or video will result in creating an emotion, but because we’re lazy we latch onto the “packaged message” within the caption, instead of filtering the content through our own set of values and logical constructs.

I wonder if these outrage-mongers are ever concerned about destroying the real brand.
That “brand” which incorporates “being human” as vital ingredient.
Being human, exhibiting some logical restraint— And not merely acting upon the way the product is presented, but being truly concerned about the real implications of the content.
Instead the world often lauds the salesman who gets the most views—Turning him into a celebrity!
At the expense of real tragedy that eventually finds its way to the same shelf where sensation is diligently stored.