Opinion—Where has all the sincerity gone?

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Nicholas Conroy

If you take any time out of your day to stop and check the latest social media posts, chances are the news you learn won’t be particularly uplifting. 

With a pandemic, upcoming elections, and humanitarian crises on both the personal and individual scales, there is no shortage of disastrous things going on in today’s world. That said, it is easy to become discouraged and, worst of all, desensitized to daily tragedy.

What’s important to remember is that each of these events, all the tragedy that you experience both through the screen and firsthand is just that, tragedy. The dramatic loss of life and trampling of human rights are things to fear, identify, and yes, worry about. It is important to stay updated and informed, and it is also important to take breaks from the “doomscrolling” and take time for yourself and your mental wellbeing. 

What I am noticing that concerns me most of all amongst the public’s handling of today’s events isn’t the fear, or even the nonchalance surrounding our tumultuous times, but rather it is the mockery and willful lack of humanity surrounding it all.

We as human beings have big hearts. We are capable of empathy and compassion that can guide and educate our lives and experiences. Why, then, does it seem like many of us have forgotten how to express ourselves sincerely? There is a growing trend I have been noticing amongst individuals online who attempt to appear jaded and cold by adopting the attitude of “how could this possibly get any worse?” or “why should I even care?”

What we are all living through is historic, admittedly not in a positive way for our mental fortitude. However, we are all living through this together. Our world is more connected than it has ever been before. We are able to contact and communicate with close friends and family as well as complete strangers in an instant, and this is revolutionary stuff! Unfortunately, with all of our connections and resources facilitating mass communication, so many of our communication channels have been overstuffed and polluted with hate, vitriol and apathy. 

I’m not telling you to look on the bright side; I realize how difficult that can be, especially now. I’m also not advocating for the end of all meaningful discussion or argument, I think opposing viewpoints colliding in our interconnected world can bring about relevant new solutions and changing perspectives. My concern lies with the lack of sincerity surrounding our discussion of current events and even our conversations in day-to-day life. We are all going through hard times, and it is important that we show up for one another, taking others’ personal tragedies into consideration with our own.

When I see news on social media of another tragedy and the automatic response from a top-rated comment is a sardonic meme voicing the futility of even caring or attempting to make light of the situation for a darkly humorous joke, I simply have to ask: where has all the sincerity gone? 

We cannot allow ourselves to sink into despair and pull others along with us. I don’t intend to parrot platitudes of reassurance or happy endings, I just want to see social media—and the internet as a whole—be used as a force for connecting once again. Connecting with others over what is real, over our shared experiences and caring for others, all the while taking the opportunity for self-reflection to recognize our emotions and have empathy for our fellow humans. 

We’re all in this together. If your experience on social media is burning you out and you feel the desire to decry tragedy out of your numbness and disconnect, there is no shame in that. It is natural to feel hopeless and for the hopelessness to lead to outspoken coldness, but don’t forget your humanity. Remember the warmth and sincerity that still exists, and will always exist, in our world. 

Sometimes, before hitting “send” you should take a moment to reflect on your own feelings and how to identify them with others. A moment to unplug and reflect can be just as productive as a moment to pick up your phone and update yourself on the newest happenings. 

When overwhelmed with the despair and fear present on social media, take the time instead to use your phone to check on an old friend or family member, catch up and let them know that you are there for them and thinking of them. Embracing your own sincerity can help bring it out in others and prove to those both close and far away that we remain all in this together.