As if I didn't have enough to worry about.
This recent study at the University of Michigan has determined that Americans (and being Canadian myself and having seen some of my adopted Niece's boyfriends, I'd include Canadians too) are--to quote the article--"about 40 percent lower in empathy than their counterparts of 20 or 30 years ago."
Now, it does seem strange to me that one can make percentages out of emotions, but this study does match things I've read and heard and seen. University students here and in Canada seem to want everything to be spoon fed to them. Down here my husband was warned that he could be sued if he gave failing grades (this hasn't stopped him). I've heard about a surprising increase in the number of first-year students threatening suicide because they failed an exam.
People seem to be just as inclined to film an assault with their phone cameras and put in on Youtube than call 911, and if the kind of comments people feel free to dump in public forums are any indication then there are a hell of a lot of very nasty people out there.
The article goes on to say that there is a "growing body of research" showing that frequent exposure to violent media numbs people to the pain of others, and that the lack of intimacy in friendships online makes it easy to ignore how other people feel. I would go on to add that Youtube.com has made voyeurism so natural that people seem to have lost the sense of the meaning or effects of their actions. People will take pictures of a young woman being raped and post them on Facebook instead of doing anything to stop it, or pay homeless people to fight, or cyber bully vulnerable youths into killing themselves.
I know that this isn't everybody in their late teens and early twenties. I want to make that clear. I have friends on LJ who are right in the midst of the 'Me Generation' and are among the sweetest and most generous people I know (I'm writing a book with one of them).
But. There is still this huge number of young people walking around who don't care as much about others as their parents did, and one day my son will have to work for them. Not to mention that whatever the evils of modern media, they'll just get worse.
So, I'm scared about what the future will bring. I know that the kids in Javier's class all seem to be sweet, loving, empathetic little people, but that's a microcosm. What about the rest of them? Will anybody care?