The importance of empathy in the digital age


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In the Zulu tribe, the word for ‘hello’ is ‘Sawubona,’ which means “I see you” and the response, ‘Ngikhona’ means “I am here.” 


With the ever-rising technology in this digital era, humans are becoming more distant from each other. We, find ourselves becoming numb to our surroundings and other people’s feelings, happiness, and sadness.

The ability to be able to put oneself in another person’s place and feel the way they are supposed to feel is diminishing day by day. Our society has lost the beauty of being there for others. Empathy has become an extinct trait in this hassle of winning. The superpower of empathy that is a part of human nature is declining!

While a large majority of people around the world are capable of empathy, on a fun note did you know that only 98% of people (the exceptions include those with psychopathic tendencies) have the ability to be empathic so sometimes the practice of it is limited, but what is empathy, and why is it important?

So What Exactly Is Empathy(In My View)?

Empathy for me has always been about having the capability to emotionally understand what another person is experiencing, and it’s more about looking at others through their eyes, and not yours.

Empathy in a more technical term, is being aware of the feelings and emotions of other people and It is a crucial element of emotional intelligence, the link between ourselves and other people because it is through empathy we, as individuals, understand what others are going through as if we were feeling it ourselves.

To empathize is to be able to get into another person’s world and build a connection with them both emotionally and compassionately. We don’t have to agree with them entirely or fully understand them or even like them to be able to be empathetic towards them.

What Empathy Is Not?

Empathy is often misunderstood, it’s not about feeling sympathy, pity, agreeing towards someone’s situation, it’s not about sharing your own experiences by the phrase that I guarantee you we have all found ourselves saying or hearing more than once “Yes, that happened to me too” many of us confuse this action by being empathetic towards someone situation, but half of the time how the other person feels is you are saying, to them is that “Your struggle is not unique. It happens to all of us. And that’s not what empathy is”

How is empathy the world’s best superpower?

When I was younger I remember wanting to have superman superpowers how cool would it be too able to fly. But now I am all grown up and still secretly still wish for his powers, but over the years I discovered that we as humans have our own superpowers already built within us and being able to be empathic is even a more powerful skill to have in today’s world.

We need more empathy in our world

In 2006, President Barack Obama spoke of an “empathy deficit” that the world is currently experiencing. He stated, “We should talk more about our empathy deficit—the ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes; to see the world through the eyes of those who are different from us—the child who’s hungry, the steelworker who’s been laid-off, the family who lost the entire life they built together when the storm came to town. When you think like this—when you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others, whether they are close friends or distant strangers—it becomes harder not to act; harder not to help.” source

The delusion of being self-sufficient is killing empathy. Every one of us is different! We think; differently, we act differently, but one thing that is common in all of us is the inner superpower of empathy. Unfortunately, since his speech in 2006, the empathy deficit has grown over time, more and more people and business have become numb to the needs and sufferings of the world.

If we continue to build a society that lacks empathy in its foundation, a lot can go wrong

Can we really blame Technology For empathy deficit

According to the Global Risks Report 2019, technology is actually making the world more anxious, less connected, unhappy, and the rise of people feeling lonely is higher than ever especially within my generation, but can we really blame technology? Because after all technology is just a tool that is technically morally neutral and completely dependent on us the users, so we have a choice on how we use this tool,

From my view as a person working in technologies I believe that in our generation and future generations coming, is we need technology, and we don’t know or remember a life where we never had it; and let’s be honest technology makes our lives easier and more efficient in so many ways. It has provided us especially people like me opportunities to learn skills that we wouldn’t have access to without technology.

It also helps connects us to each other, being able to connect with people who live across the world is absolutely empowering and amazing, so we can’t really blame technology for the destructive ways it’s being used and it’s up to us to mind the way we use technology and teach our children and those around us on how to use technology for good.

Practicing Empathy As an Entrepreneur or Technologist

Empathy within the entrepreneurship and tech world is absolutely important and is the backbone of entrepreneurship and creating digital tools is to solve existing pain that we have identified and this can not work without understanding those people that are involved, from shareholders or investors to employees and customers, this why encourages any entrepreneur or technologist to work on their empathy skills so that they can be in tune with the perspectives and needs of the people who will be your users or clients.

My Tips On How to be more empathetic

  • Practice being more grateful for whatever you have. With more acceptance comes more compassion.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation. The power of visualization helps a lot in placing yourself in others’ places.
  • Interact with more people around you. Identify the specific situations and relationships where more empathy is needed, get in touch with those people, and let them know that you are there for them. Empathy may be required in the form of an apology, appreciation, or acknowledgment in a relationship, start working on it with the most important people in your life. Help people feel seen and heard.
  • Listen More Than You Speak One of the best ways to express empathy towards people is by asking them how they are feeling and actually listen to them. We need to develop the ability to let people speak their minds.
  • Never Make Assumptions because When you make an assumption towards someone’s situation, the understanding you get is never accurate to the problem the person is facing. As a result, you can’t empathize in the right way.

Get started now!

Empathy is a skill I value as an entrepreneur and technologist and has a human being. As time goes on, and we move into an ever more connected world, empathy is the tool that will let us lay a better foundation to build a better future.

So In this empathy and compassion deficient world, be brave enough to see what others are going through around you and the world. See, feel, listen, and understand what’s in front of you. Don’t be blind to others’ people pain & challenges.

Our future doesn’t need more successful professionals. It needs more empathic leaders who understand the value of empathy.

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