Mar 7, 2017

Against Empathy

It is magic.
Every day at 1 pm straight Smart-S gets hit by a little click-storm. Nothing dangerous - far from a DOS attack. It actually warms my heart to know that somebody has made some code crawl this little-known dusty corner of the net to see what has been deposited there. Some empathetic robot silently weeping when things get rough in the world of the smart-ss's (does it ever?) and chuckling about the shallow jokes (are there any?). Cute.
After observing this for a few months, though, I start to wonder whether that little lump of bytes couldn't be extended a bit so it is able to leave some, umm, comments? Maybe? Hello?!
Some feedback (supportive, controversial or otherwise) would be nice for once!
What good is a silent empathetic reader, ultimately - be it a machine or humanoid?
It is like that ever-loving mother who listens to the crap you do in your childhood, the annoying stuff you call freedom while growing up, your self-pity when you fail just another relationship and run away from the n-th marriage. She stays empathetic, keeps nodding, back-patting even when your self-love explodes to become narcissism, when you sacrifice everything and everyone just to make yourself shine... empathy, 'support', hugs - an eternal flow of destructive 'yes'es. Empathy, the goodhearted, naive little sister of the hideous teenager called pity.
When I was wondering what silent empathy is good for I came across a review of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion by Paul Bloom (here)
He goes beyond the pure semantics: While Empathy can lead to mind-blurring commiserations which essentially amplify and stabilize problems rather than attacking them, compassion wakes up the rage, it fires up dissent and outrage and strives to get up and actually change things. Empathy is for the self-pitying willing to sink ever deeper, Compassion is less cozy, more engaging and it has the potential to change the world.
So, come on, you little badly-programmed web-crawlers can you please move on?! Get your tear-stained sappy code out of here and leave this site alone.
Thanx.