Last Friday a horrible tragedy occurred and the nation mourned. It’s sad. It’s devastating and life shattering and I understand how such an event can move people to tears.
But, it didn’t move me to tears. And I feel like The Grinch. I feel bad admitting it. In this culture of over-sharing all our emotions and releasing statements I think a lot of what I hear is lip service. I just find it hard to believe that 90% of my facebook friends are actually heartbroken and crying over something that doesn’t directly affect them. I think that a lot of us feel expected to feel a certain way. I think there’s an attitude in our culture about trying to prove ourselves, whether we’re proving to be happy, fit, smart, popular, or even empathetic or “good” people. Is that the driving force behind all the depressing facebook posts and tweets? Do we just want other people to think we’re the kind of people who leak empathy?
It reminds me of the same way we overuse emotion words. Did we really love the 10 year old boy we crushed on in 5th grade? Do we really hate people who wear leggings as pants? Are you really this traumatized by an event that happened thousands of miles from your everyday life?
Maybe it’s because I refuse to watch the news. I don’t watch the media blitz surrounding such tragedies. I stay away from the forums that could tell me the personal narratives and possibly make me feel the connection I seem to lack. It’s not that I don’t care, as I stated before I understand the horror of it and I think it’s tragic, but I just don’t connect to it. I’m not moved to write a sorrowful blog post or facebook update. I didn’t spend all day thinking about it. Last week after I heard what happened, I tuned it out. I didn’t want to know anymore. I don’t care to know the backstory. I’m not looking for any answers. Answers won’t fix it anyway.
Maybe it’s self-preservation. Even if I’m not a hugely empathetic person I am sensitive. Clips of horror movies give me nightmares and stay with me for years. I cry every time Sally Field breaks down in the graveyard in Steel Magnolias. Maybe I feel too deeply and so I refuse to partake in the consumption of horror stories whenever possible and in turn that makes me less empathetic. Maybe my initial reaction that most people are just performing sadness is correct. I don’t know.
What do you think? Am I just less empathetic than the masses? Or are the masses playing up their sadness to appear more empathetic?