In our random thoughts, we talk about dogs crying, empathy, tribalism and social media. Those aren’t fully transcribed here.
Pharrell Williams says in a Masterclass that his imagination helped him survive, but as he grew up he realized that he was only seeing the world in one way, which was from his experience. The day that you stop being curious, you stop learning, he thinks.
“The universe doesn’t stop,” he says, “so why should my curiosity?”
Empathy helps people be more creative. Empathy towards other helps you realize that you know that they exist. When you’re in partnerships, he said, empathy is the role call, it’s where you show that everyone exists and it allows you to be open and create bigger projects and relationships.
So, let’s think about that in the bigger picture about our society and kids, okay?
In a New York Times article by Matt Richtel, he focuses on U.S. teens and their depression, anxiety, suicide and self-harm. He chronicles one ten-year-old’s journey on an iPod Touch that their grandparents gave them.
The kid posted selfies.
Some people (men) sent photos of their penises and asked for the kid to send naked photos back and also solicited them for sex.
The kid, C, tried to ignore it.
“That plan did not work out. The internet seeped into C’s psyche; severely depressed, they found kinship online with other struggling adolescents and learned ways to self-harm,” Richtel writes.
For teens in the U.S. the risks are no longer drugs, drinking, and getting pregnant. Now they are anxiety, self-harm, suicide, depression.
“What science increasingly shows is that virtual interactions can have a powerful impact, positive or negative, depending on a person’s underlying emotional state,” Richtel writes.
He adds that “The ability of youth to cope has been further eroded by declines in sleep, exercise and in-person connection, which all have fallen as screen time has gone up. Young people, despite vast virtual connections, or maybe because of them, report being lonelier than any other generation. And many studies have found that adolescents who spend more time online are less happy.”
The data? It’s grim. And it effects happiness and empathy.
Richtel writes, “From 2007 to 2016, emergency room visits for people aged 5 to 17 rose 117 percent for anxiety disorders, 44 percent for mood disorders and 40 percent for attention disorders, while overall pediatric visits were stable. The same study, published in Pediatrics in 2020, found that visits for deliberate self-harm rose 329 percent. But visits for alcohol-related problems dropped 39 percent, reflecting the change in the kind of public health risks posed to teenagers.”
He quoted how a doctor who talks about how a lot of kids try to find community online, adopting even the tic disorders of Tik-Tokers. They want, desperately, to belong.
We see tribalism all the time, that need for cliques, for belonging, especially in political parties, but it’s not just there. It’s everywhere—that need to fit in, to belong, to be part of a pack even if you never actually meet the other pack members. Dogs show it beautifully when they are full of joy greeting you at the door. Why aren’t we all like that? Maybe we’re meant to be—about our family and our friends—joyous to see them again, excited to hear about their days and adventures.
Robert Reffkin, who launched a real estate technology company, Compass, realized people wanted community and culture and people who give you energy rather than take it away in relationships and in workplaces. He said that most employees feel that their businesses and organizations need more empathy.
“Leaders need to really honor and respect the diversity of challenges in people’s lives,” Reffkin says.
It can be as simple as not expecting everyone to be an extrovert and talk over each other at a meeting, understanding communication styles are different, or that sometimes someone needs a day off because they have a life beyond the office. That kindness, that understanding, gives your employees more support and makes them feel a part of something. That goes for your kids, too.
Robin Arzón, an ultramarathon runner, says when you feel a part of something, then you feel like you have agency. During her career, Arzón was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and had to readjust to the changes and challenges to her body. Other runners supported her as she supported them. They empowered each other and empathized with each other during training and races.
“I believe empowerment is contagious. I believe joy is contagious,” she says.
A study in Japan looked at 823 college students and learned that the students with high or moderate physical activity self-reported more cognitive empathy than the students with low physical activity (The Journal of Physical Fitness and Sports Therapy, 2021). That doesn’t happen when we’re all on social media, stuck inside, joining a TikTok group. Or if we’re scrolling through Twitter looking for a hashtag to focus us on hating other people.
“Empathy is everything,” Arzón says. “It extinguishes assumptions and limitations.”
Empathy helps you to empower other people because when you see where they are at, you are able to help pull them along to their goal.
“Empathy’s greatest potential is equality for all mankind,” Williams said. Empathy is the best tool for equality, he says. But it’s also the best tool for belonging. When we realize others’ pains; when we work toward connections? We move out of our tribes, our bubbles, and become something much healthier and bigger.
DOG TIP FOR LIFE
Cry when your people come home, because holy god, they made it back!
SOME COOL LINKS TO LEARN MORE
The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License.
Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song? It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.
AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!
We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.
Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!