Technology has transformed the modern world in so many ways ranging from communication, education, construction, medical care and so forth. Continuous application of technology in our daily lives tends to result in reduction in the amount of time people spend with each other, and thereby limited connection as far as the moral aspects of human life such as empathy are concerned. This is because people get distracted by gadgets such as their smartphones and tablet PCs, playing games on end. People are getting attached to technological devices in a way that they tend loose the necessary human connection.
In the 1930s, studies indicate, people felt happier hearing the voices of their loved ones via telephones or physical visits. This has changed; in most cases, as people involve themselves in numerous technological communication such as texting or short message services that tend to cut the link between individuals on a face to face or direct call basis. Based on this, many people have a raised questions on whether technology is destroying empathy or not (Greenfield 24-28). The whole world appreciates technology for advancing human lives. However, much concern is being raised on perceptions and impressions placed on people by technology. Divided opinions have risen on the idea that technology is destroying empathy.
Technology is destroying empathy; I say this because, the communication platforms or ideas created by technology have limited physical human connection. Empathy is described as putting yourself in another person's shoe. Technology has limited the real feeling and expression of empathy. For example, someone talking to a financially troubled person distances away may fail to act quickly based on a phone call or email request. An email sent by someone who is financially troubled to another requesting for help might be viewed after days or hours later thus delaying the response and expected help (Greenfield 24-28). On the other hand, someone reading the email may fail to figure out the real situation of the other party thus totally destroying chances of timely response, and consequently, empathy.
Those against the idea promote the notion that technology is maintaining and advancing empathy. They say this because; initially empathy could only be expressed on physical presence. They say this has changed as technological aspects like video calls, photo sending among others can enable one understand the real situation away from the place. The main concern of this group is based on the fact that career requirements and other economic factors are forcing people to stay away from friends and loved ones. This is creating a major gap that can only be breached by technology. It is on this ground that they say technology is advancing empathy (Curtis 12-17).
Social media technology is promoting narcissism; with the advent of selfies and photo filtering, likes and self-promotion. I say this because social platforms like Facebook and Twitter are encouraging self-promotion activities. These activities include people posting "selfies" that are followed by numerous comments from friends and other social media participants. I have to say that such self-promotion activities tend to promote narcissism while empathy remains on a steady decline. Studies show that social media users are happier when friends or followers like their photos or posts on social media. Lack of such responses from friends warrants sadness and dissatisfaction. In the event of sad news posted on social media, many opt to post messages of condolences in the comments and private messages but never follow-up and act on such messages. Thus, it remains that sympathy is enhanced by social media but not empathy.
As much as many people in the society feel technology is at the center of the decline in empathy, those against this point out that technology is not to blame. They say morality in our society is growing low, and people tend to lose concern for others based on the numerous occurrences of tragic events in human lives these days. According to them, technology is trying to widen or extend empathy to non-family members or friends. For example, they argue that a good number of people within the society have benefited from the circulation of their photos online or by posting their problems on social media (Curtis 12-17). They argue that in such cases help normally comes from all corners and directions; thus, proving the point that technology enhances empathy. The main argument presented by this group is based on the point that empathy has revolved around loved ones for a long time. However, technology is turning the whole world into a village where all can view one's troubles and offer some help.
Empathy, from its definition, calls for more seriousness. However, technology has made empathy look simpler, thus leading to its decline. This is because research on social media has seen many people make jokes out of very serious situations that cause more anguish to victims. From a moral perspective, it is wrong for someone's comments or responses to cause emotional harm to a troubled person. To uphold empathy, an action is considered necessary while technology acts to reduce this to sympathy. In conclusion, technology promotes sympathy and limits empathy to a great extent; unless a call to action is made.
Curtis, Richard. Reasonable Perspectives on Religion. Lanham, Md: Lexington Books, 2010. Print.
Greenfield, Susan. Mind Change: How Digital Technologies Are Leaving Their Mark on Our Brains. , 2015. Internet resource.
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