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Does social media make us less empathetic?

August 6, 2010

Social Citizens blog talks about a new study showing younger people (Millennial generation) are less empathetic than they used to be, and they suggest social media may play a role in that.

Do people lose some of their ability to feel the pain of another when they often find themselves in relationships that are more virtual and less face-to-face? Or is it a function of intense media coverage of tragedy that make us all a little jaded?

Consider how the story of an individual in a real situation can help us develop understanding, create empathy and move to action. Maybe seeing too many negative stories simply paralyzes us, not because we are removed from the problem by Facebook or Twitter, but because we cannot imagine that anything we do individually could possibly make a difference.

In that sense, social media and other ways of joining together can help us find a way to show our concerns and actively help, like the dollars raised for relief in Haiti by texting. We also can do everything we can to share stories that show realistic possibilities for hope, ways to build on what is still good, true and possible in our communities at home and across the globe.

Your Community Foundation has seen many such examples in the inspiring stories of our nonprofit partners and the donors who support our shared work. And we’ll keep on sharing them to keep hope alive.

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