3 March 2022: Empathy Fatigue
Updated: Mar 4
What does it mean to be human? To me, it means empathy. To care.
It's innate. We care about fictional characters, about animals, children, and more. We make jokes about it, but humans will empathize with an inanimate object with googly eyes.
Long story short, we care.
Caring has become increasingly painful in recent years, though. With so much going on in the world right now—the war between Russia and Ukraine, the coronavirus, and likely more I'm unaware of—it's easy for the straw to break the camel's back.
I've had empathy fatigue since before the pandemic and it's only gotten worse. It's not that I don't care about what's been happening, because I do, but it's difficult to reconcile yet another horrible thing on top of a massive pile of other shitty things.
I am speaking from a place of privilege, obviously.
I have the privilege of turning off the news, of stepping away from my computer, of burying myself in innumerable tasks. These awful things aren't happening directly to me, so I can hide, but it doesn't erase what's being done. It doesn't erase the hurt.
Christina Rann (@c.rann.writes) said it best: "I don't think I've ever seen a more condensed, almost clinical case study of people under extreme empathetic stress reaching their breaking points at different times for different reasons and then having to carry on business as usual, knowing they're barreling towards another cliff. [...] These last two years, we've experienced and witnessed trauma. Again and again, non-stop, overlapping traumas."
In these moments where we are facing trauma over and over, facing the terrible realities our fellow humans have suffered, we carry on because we have no choice. We carry on with the hope that something will change and the pain will ease.
I have no real advice. All I can say is to take care of yourself and those around you. We're fragile, we're tired, and there's a potential WWIII on the horizon.
Be safe, be kind, be mindful.