Max Feist

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Is it possible to find empathy through the internet?

In a cyber-dominated world, we are spending more and more time being physically alone. However, we are spending more time communicating with more people because of communication technology. Does the internet reduce our capacity for empathy or can it bring us closer together?

  • Apr 1 2011: Ultimately I think it is possible to find empathy through anything. The human soul is very receptive and perceptive to the needs of others. Emotions are not tangible. However, we cannot refute what we feel and how it affects us. The strongest connection is an emotional connection. Therefore, I think it is very possible to find empathy and be connected to others through the internet.
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    Mar 30 2011: Hello Max,While we are physically alone we often find others of like interests who can introduce us to the causes that they are supporting. TED is a good example of where individuals find community and causes with which to empathize.
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    Apr 4 2011: The sad truth according to me is "NO". The internet and online communication closes people's biological needs. People are born in nature and there is something truly amazing that I feel when i go on a mountain trip, without phones, laptops, internet etc...

    I do believe that the internet gives people new ways to find love and meet interesting people but if that doesn't go beyond the internet it's a fake empathy which doesn't last long.
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    Apr 2 2011: I think the internet opens doors for multiple intelligences to express empathy on a variety of platforms in front of a variety of audiences from the 'privacy' of their 'space'. Empathy is very difficult to express for many people, verbally. On the internet, there are so many other ways of delivering empathy be it through the written word, in a song, through art, poetry, pictures, donations, involvement with social, political action agencies, being part of a social network, online chat groups, therapy groups etc.... These interactions make a person, who feels down, hurt or upset, more connected with the world around him/her. I feel it is this basic need, this connectivity, most living beings yearn for their entire lives. Being able to 'feel' for someone else, empathy, is being able to 'connect', feel 'with', be 'with', feel good and bad for the person you are connected to. The internet provides many platforms for this connectivity. Are we really 'alone' in this sense'. I just feel that we are really looking hard at 'redefining' the parameters of what 'living life' really means. The internet has opened up the doors for so many 'traditionally' 'non-social' people who found being in crowds crippling. Now many of these people can say they have a 'life', feel connected and have found empathy just by being wired.
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    Apr 1 2011: I think it brings us closer together because we can understand so many more points of views right now and construct more detailed feelings and experiences. Our minds are computers; the more information it stores, divides and processes, the more useful it becomes!
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    Apr 1 2011: For the full effect, empathy is really something you feel best when someone shows their understanding of your emotions, but as all things emotional, it is best shown and perceived when expressed and felt face to face.

    Now, the internet can provide some tools to get us closer to the real thing, such as video-conferencing, or even voice only can be better than reading and typing to answer.

    When face to face interactions is not possible, the internet can provide some feeling of empathy, but both sides have to know each other from real physical interactions, or be ready to open-up in a non-threatening environment, whatever that means for each of us.
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    Mar 31 2011: I think ones empathy towards digital communication, or whatever, is limited on a persons ability to express themselves in a written language. If you're able to express yourself well in spoken and written language, I think empathy can be felt.
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      Mar 31 2011: Kyle,I agree. But also want to add that some people show their empathy through sharing pictures or music, not words. I have Facebook friends who share their grief after the loss of loved one and who finds great comfort both in just putting it out there, but also in other friends small comments, like hearts and smileys. And when there is a IRL connection as well, the cyber connection can just enhance it.

      Max, your profile picture looks sad to me. I wish that little boy all the best!
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    Mar 30 2011: It can, if the persons understand eachother to the extent that they can feel the depths in the words typed.
    Empathy can be felt instinctively.

    Cheers