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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sympathy/Empathy



It's very difficult to write when you're listening to certain kinds of music isn't it? I would know right know... But, do you know exactly what I mean, like you were in my shoes, or do you simply feel sorry for me?

Well, I know that was dumb (But it is related to the subject at hand). Most probably, you just read that as the text it was, and didn't really feel anything at all. I hate these things that only give you limited options. Which is just what EQ tests give you.

What is EQ then? Well, we're not talking about an equalizer, but what EQ stands for in this case is Empathy Quotient.

It's a very primitive grading system, trying to calculate how high your empathic skills are. To me, it's as difficult to grade as it is difficult trying to figure out if you're more happy now than you were sad the last time you didn't feel so well; It's possible to some extent, but it's not really something you can get accurate results from. Sometimes it feels like the people of today try to categorize pretty much everything, no matter how unnecessary it might be.

IQ, I can still understand to some extent, especially the origins of it, but even that is taken far too seriously. It feels a bit like people are sometimes missing the point (in general, I mean; no specific point...)


I don't really want to imagine a society, where everyone has to take an EQ test, and you're judged based on your results, making it difficult to achieve some jobs and stuff...

Okay... I'm not being that honest. Actually I'm not even interested in this EQ thing, and the tests can very well exist in my eyes. I just don't think you should take them all too seriously, as with most other survey thingies as well. I just decided to write a random introduction relating to the subject of empathy and sympathy.



There are several definitions of the words, trying to explain their differences. But many of them are in conflict, which is a bit interesting, in my opinion at least. Some people even believe that the words are synonyms. Nothing wrong with that really, if you haven't heard of them being different before, but the difference is of somewhat large importance.

Well, I'm not going to define the words exactly either, since apparently people have too different opinions of what they mean (if you try googling it). But basically, they are both feelings, felt towards another person, or why not several people, or in some cases even animals.

Let's begin with sympathy. There are several uses for that word as well. But basically, if you sympathize with someone, you recognize that there is something that isn't positive that they feel, but you can't really feel the same exact emotion yourself, or even understand all the factors to how they are feeling either. Simply put, you can feel sorry for a person, or even pity them. In most cases, sympathy would be what you feel when you see a homeless person or a beggar, lying on the ground, let's say in a marketplace. That is, you wouldn't really know what it would be like to be in their position, but you realize that they are not the happiest people around.


Then, there is empathy. It's closely related to sympathy, but isn't really the same thing. Having good empathic skills, means that you're good at feeling the same things as, or at least recognizing the feelings in a fellow being (mostly human). That is to say, you can basically feel as if you were in another person's shoes.
Empathy is what you'd often feel if someone is currently going through something that you're going trough at the same time, or have gone through earlier. Let's say that you've lost a close relative at some point in your life, and now one of your friends has done so as well. If you're somewhat similar people concerning your reactions and feelings, now's probably whey you would empathize with that person.


Those are pretty much the major differences, but one could discuss the definitions and different examples for eternity.


But as I said, levels of empathic ability cannot really be accurately measured, and I hope that I don't need to explain why, since that would take forever (my brain feels up for the task already, but I'm getting my drivers license tomorrow [hopefully], so I really should focus on getting some sleep instead).


Arrrgghhhhh!!!! I could write so much on this subject, but I don't have enough time... I might return to it later at some point. I've basically touched upon it in an earlier post once before already, when I spoke of being on the same wavelength; rapport.



(Magical jump transition, totally ignoring that side note)



But the sad thing is, no matter how empathic of a creature you are, you can never feel the exact same as some other person does, there are simply too many factors involved. There is really an infinite amount of feelings, but as I said, we humans apparently like to simplify things, by categorizing them, thus making their basics easier to see. You can say that you feel happy, and you might really feel happy as well. But you can feel happy in a BILLION (okay, that's under exaggerating it) different ways. Every feeling of emotion, is specific to your current situation in life. Granted, many feelings of happiness are inseparably similar, so close to each other that their difference is insignificant, but it's there. A bit like colors, really. There is an infinite amount of colors as well. Sure, there is a certain limitation to the amount of colors that humans can separate from one another, but even the amount of colors in the human visual spectrum is ridiculously huge.
Well, I'm not the first one to compare human emotions to colors, but the point is: No matter how good your empathic skills are, you can never feel the exact thing as someone else does. Even in your pure core, your bodies and brains are different.

Am I the only one who has wondered how it would feel like for someone else if they would feel the same pain as I do when I accidentally hurt myself? Would it hurt them as much, less, or more, depending on the person? Probably... Yes, I am the only one. And that is not even measurable. I should delete this whole paragraph, but I'll leave it here for your amusement.


What I was actually trying to say, is that it's a shame that we're stuck to our own experiences, and the way we feel. No matter how social we are, we are alone.

If you're short, you'll never really know how it feels like to be tall. You can logically think about all the factors, or compare it to other similar things (which can be a very effective method to coming close, as I'm sure you already know), and try to put yourself in a tall persons shoes. But no matter how close you come, you'll never quite be there (I can already hear some smartass thinking: "well what if that person was a kid, and he eventually grows up to become tall"... Very clever, but missing the point).

I just thought of a better example, so HA! (yes, I'm basically talking to myself via text, officially).


I'm pretty sure that most people have thought about this at least once. No matter how much you try to empathize, you can't really know how it feels like for the opposite sex to have sexual intercourse (actually, you wouldn't really know exactly what it feels like for someone of the same sex either, but you'd probably come much much closer to guessing correctly).  And yes, I know this isn't really what empathy is all about... It's about emotional feels, not physical. Still, they are also very connected.


But it's a shame that you can't see things from other peoples' eyes; you can't think like other peoples' brains do. You're stuck with yourself. You can't even (at least as far as we know as of yet) prove that my "green", is the same as your green. It would be pretty darn interesting to be another person for a day or so. Who would you like to live as, or would you be too afraid to try? There are certain things out of human grasp...


Your reality is also limited to what your senses tell you. You only know reality as you see it with your own eyes, but there's always a lot more to it. You can also calculate, and see new things using this new trendy thing called "science", which is probably the main reason as to why it's such a popular method to go around things. You don't need to guess that the Rain God must be angry when it's raining, but you can know what causes the rain instead, without any real need to experience the truth with your own senses.

But people are still skeptical, and sometimes with a right to be so, even towards "proven things". People often have difficulty to trust others to such an extent that they'd abandon logic just to believe you. Jesus must have been a mastermind at seeing the opposite get done... No but really, many want to "see it with their own eyes".


But still, your reality is bound to what your senses tell you. I'm pretty sure that platypi (platupuses) can feel some kind of an electromagnetic force. That is to say, they have a sixth sense. But what if you suddenly got a new sense? (well, technically humans already have lots more senses than five, but you get what I'm saying). Your perception of reality would probably change drastically, since you'd be able to recognize all these new things. And that's just it. Different perceptions.


It would be awesome to perceive the world as someone else. But since you can't do that, you have to turn to alternatives. The closest thing you can come to seeing things like others, is to really try understanding them. And to be able to do this, it really helps to have a good sense of empathy. Not sympathy, but empathy.

To be able to do all this, you need to discuss with other people, and often you need to be very close. It helps to have known people for a very long time. You automatically see things more like they do, since you've been in the same environment for a long time.

But even if you can have no close discussions with anyone, you could always do things like reading (why not this blog ;)? ), if you want to gain new perspectives.




















What is this? Well, I felt like posting some kind of a picture today, and I was lazy. So I made this. And it correlates to the subject!





What is this, you might ask? Well, it's something completely normal, seen from a different perspective. Everything has potential to become much more interesting when seen from a new viewpoint.






Okay... You got me... I lied again. That thing about correlating to the subject was a lie (I made that up on after hand). Actually I just wanted to photograph something with the negative effect. You, who know more than me, educate me: How does that negative scale thing work, really? Is it just opposite colors in some way or what? I'm too lazy to research it (I hate it how you can't really say "jag orkar inte" in a good way in English -_-) myself right now, but I think I will do so later.



Light looks really cool when you take pictures in the same way! I like darkness so, what can I say...










And thus I have a new song title! (I just have to compose the song). "Light is Darkness Too".


Yupp... I'll try to make that song sometime... I think...











That'd be about it for now!

Have fun : D !

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