The half-heartedness of social empathy in today’s society

Von Lanier

Our world is in the middle of the greatest technological revolution of all time, and the United States is considered a global leader in digital media
analytics and smartphone platform production. With digital interaction through social media apps being on a near-constant basis in our country and the world beyond, genuine human empathy is declining as the use of smartphones is increasing.

We are becoming a society that can be entertained all day by the material our smartphones make available to us through apps like Twitter and Facebook. After watching the NBA playoffs this past weekend, I noticed that an entire row of fans at one of the basketball games were all checking their phones while a Glam-Cam circled their faces unbeknownst to them.

Usually people are extremely excited to be on TV at such an exciting event but these fans were more immersed in their phones than the actual game itself. It’s rather austere that people would waste hard-earned money like that but there they were, tweeting away.

According to a recent comScore report, nearly 200 million U.S. citizens own smartphones. This accounts for roughly 62 percent of the population, with millennials between the ages of 18 to 24 making up 77 million of that populous. The average millennial with a smartphone checks his or her phone at least 75 times a day and that number seems to decline with age, based on an article by Time Magazine. This makes it safe to assume that millennials are checking their phones as much as or over 500 times a week.

This constant connection to social media means a typical smartphone user will more than likely see some form of coarse material at least 25 times per day while scrolling their news feed. This exposure to negative material is not only desensitizing the viewer upon seeing it but also ruining the way people socialize with each other after they’ve been exposed to such content.

For instance, someone could post something on Facebook that is an outright tragedy, and they will get many “Likes” on their status.

It sounds absurd that people would actually like it if another person was in despair, but rather than typing how the status makes them feel personally or simply calling their friend and consoling them, people would rather do the most convenient thing, such as, clicking “Like” instead of showing true empathy for their peer. The use of emoticons conveniently allows people to display their feelings about something even if they don’t really feel emotional about it at all.

Another example is when a recorded fight video goes viral and gets shared 2.5 million times in just a few hours. It would appear people love to see violence as long as they’re not actually in it themselves and the harm is not affecting them personally. But what about the victim?

Don’t they deserve more than getting virally humiliated while half of the country types “lol” or “LMAO!!!” under the video? Among a growing list of others, this is one of the biggest problems with spending too much time on social media apps through the use of smartphones.

This issue is especially true for the millennial generation, who spends the most time throughout the day visiting these sites. WorldstarHipHop.com (WSHH) has become so popular among young adults that the website has an estimated net worth of $92 million.

It’s no secret that sites like WSHH capture the worst sides of humanity, especially among the African American community, and many people have complained about the content of the site being exploitative and outright stereotypical.

A way to consider remedying the addiction that young people have to social media is to encourage more verbal expression and face-to-face interactions. The advances we’ve made in in the world of tech are highly admirable, but it means nothing if people are becoming slaves to entertainment.

It seems like the only time young adults are encouraged to put their phone down is when they’re eating or sleeping. Putting the smartphone down for an hour or two a day without touching it is actually good for mental and spiritual well-being.

It’s good to always be readily available for a business call but don’t put your conscience on hold for a quick laugh and don’t let Facebook consume your soul.