Empathy is essentially a probable psychological motivator for assisting others in distress. More than everything else, empathy is the glue, which joins all human beings together. In basic terms, empathy is the capability to imagine or feel another individual’s emotional experience. Empathy answers the question regarding how one knows what another individual is feeling and thinking (Hatﬁeld et al. 3). The ability to empathize is an imperative part of emotional and social development, affecting a person’s behavior toward others as well as the quality of social relationships. Numerous investigations have revealed that there has been a significant decline in empathy among the modern generation, especially the college students. The article titled, “All About Me” by Jeanna Bryner is about the decline in empathy among the college students.
Bryner supports her claims by citing the findings from a review of 72 studies conducted among 14,000 American college students between 1979 and 2009. The aforementioned studies found that the contemporary college students are less likely to get others’ emotions compared to the college students during 20 and 30 years ago. According to Konrath cited in the article by the author, the present college students are narcissist, self-centered, confident, competitive, and individualistic. The author also cites Edward O'Brien, who states that the increasing emphasis on self goes along with devaluation of others.
Nonetheless, the author asserts that there have been other recent studies that have shown mixed results on today’s youth character. She supports her assertion by giving an example of a study that showed that these days’ youths are no more selfish than their parents were at their age. The article goes further and describes the reasons for the lower empathy among the contemporary college students as suggested by O’Brian and Konrath. One of the reasons is the growing exposure of the current generation to the media. In addition, the author claims that the rise in the social media could also play a role in lowering the empathy among the college students. The other probable cause of lower empathy as claimed by O’Brien include the fast-paced nature of nowadays where individuals are less likely to slow down to listen to others than in the past. In addition, contemporary society that is hypercompetitive and focused on success is the other cause of lower empathy among the current college students.
I totally agree with the author’s argument. It is true that the current college students have lower empathy compared to the past generation. I have personally come across youths who do not have empathy in my academic life. The rise of the social media sites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Flikr has produced the most self-centered “Generation Me.” The current college students appear incapable to present themselves as understanding and empathetic individuals as many are always busy on social media sites. The lack of empathy among the present generation has greatly affected the quality of relationships. In the past, people had meaningful relationships since others took one’s problem as theirs, but this is not the case with the modern generation, especially the millennial generation. For this reason, various interventions ought to be established to help in increasing empathy among the modern generation. Konrath, O'Brien, and Courtney Hsing (191) claim that there has been one promising intervention for the decreasing lower empathy. They state that elementary schools have successfully implemented the roots of empathy by teaching kids empathy through multiple structured interactions.
Hatﬁeld, Elaine, Richard L. Rapson, and Yen-Chi L. Le. "2 Emotional Contagion and Empathy." The social neuroscience of empathy (2011): 19.
Konrath, Sara H., Edward H. O'Brien, and Courtney Hsing. "Changes in dispositional empathy in American college students over time: A meta-analysis." Personality and Social Psychology Review (2010).
Bryner, J. (2010, May 28). Today's College Students Lack Empathy. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/9918-today-college-students-lack-empathy.html