The Empathy Economy
I’ve had a couple of (frankly odd) people over the years tell me that I was an empath. Which, along with my recent radioactivity, means I should get my superhero costume any day now, right? …Right? …I will try not to hold my breath.
But for serious, I do love the concept of empathy. It’s different from sympathy. Sympathy is just saying “wow, you must feel X.” It’s colder, more like solving a puzzle or guessing the right answer. Empathy is not just knowing the emotion another has – it’s when you understand another’s emotions so fully that you feel them yourself.
Empathy is so incredibly important; it makes such a difference in this world. And now, it seems, our economy has caught on to that. A recent Forbes article found that fast-growing occupations were all related to empathy.
If these questions describe you in an unusually strong way, you’re probably with me.
Do you read between the lines easily?
Do you find your mood changing to that of the people around you?
Do you find it hard not to feel “swallowed up” by a relationship?
Do you find yourself trying to fix other’s problems?
Do violent or upsetting media – movies, TV shows, music – bother you?
Do random people find themselves telling you their life stories?
It makes perfect sense. The more technology automates, the more humans are removed from the process. In many ways that’s great – faster, more accurate, more convenient, more efficient. But it removes humans. And we’re hard-wired to need each other. We are hard-wired to require understanding, emotion: empathy.
The economy is reflecting this need. We are willing to pay and employ to get this human connectivity need met. We want to learn and teach, to commiserate and laugh, to challenge and celebrate. We need to love with each other.