What is empathy in our time?

Aufforderung an ChatGPT: “Was ist Empathie in unserem Zeitalter? Bitte mit einer gehörigen Portion Sarkasmus besschreiben. Wie so eine Philosophin, auf die ohnehin niemand mehr hört. 2000 Zeichen. In English please.” Bild: Eigene Streetart Fotografie, Teufelsberg, Berlin 2023

Empathy, that quaint relic of a bygone era, now repackaged for our digital age, where we “feel” through likes, emojis, and shares. It’s become the cultural currency that’s rich in public, yet bankrupt in private. The modern philosopher, now a social media influencer, preaches about walking a mile in another’s shoes, but let’s be honest, who really has the time? We are too busy curating our own lives to step into someone else’s story, unless it’s for a cause that’s trending, of course.

Our screens are the windows to our souls, showing us highlight reels of pain and pleasure, yet we scroll past the suffering with ease, offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ as if they are the alms that will absolve us of the sin of indifference. We practice ‘self-care’ by insulating ourselves from the discomfort of truly connecting with the pain of others. After all, isn’t empathy just another subscription service in the economy of attention, where we tune in and out as if human suffering were a series on Netflix?

And so, our philosopher muses, what is empathy in our time? It’s a commodity we trade, but never really own; a concept we admire, but rarely enact. We wear it like the latest fashion trend, an accessory that showcases our humanity without requiring us to engage with it. In the cacophony of voices clamoring to be heard, the philosopher’s whispers of empathy are drowned out by the din of our own desires, for in the end, we are each the star of our own personal drama, and everyone else is just an extra.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.