The title is incorrect. This is not an article about how virtue signaling has usurped genuine empathy; it is, instead, a statement that it did, and, as always, I am going to provide examples of what I’m talking about. Stay with me for a bit, because some groundwork has to be laid first.
I wrote yesterday that libertarians are frequently told that we lack empathy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a liberal who didn’t tell me at some point that I lack empathy. That’s a hell of a thing to say to someone who spends so much of their time and energy trying to do whatever they can to make society a better place, with more love and liberty for everyone. Telling a libertarian they lack empathy is like telling a Christian they lack Jesus.
Let’s be real for a moment. None of the stuff that happens “out there” affects me. My life is unchanged by the election, and it will remain unchanged as Trump takes office. The bitter war being fought between Republicans and Democrats because they refuse to come to an agreement and leave the other side alone has nothing to do with me. It doesn’t involve me, and I stand to gain nothing by wasting my time and energy writing articles trying to defuse the social bombs. It really doesn’t have anything to do with me, and my personal interests would probably be served better if I stoked the fires of hatred and let them rip each other apart, since my personal interests are what I like to call “being left the hell alone,” and I’m most likely to be “left the hell alone” if 95% of the population kills each other.
It sounds horrible to say, of course, but that’s because it is a horrible thing to say. Well, not really. It’s a statement of fact, and we can’t let ourselves get into the habit of assigning values to statements of fact. “Two plus two is four” should never be considered a good or bad thing to say, because it’s simply a true thing to say, just as it’s true that if what I want is to be “left the hell alone,” then that’s best served by letting conservatives and liberals get back to their bloodbath. Even if they don’t kill each other, they’ll be so busy gouging out each other’s eyes that they won’t even be able to see me, so it’s win/win no matter what.
Though it’s not really a horrible thing to say, it would certainly be questionable if I allowed that narcissistic desire to govern my actions. That could lead to utterly unforgivable behavior, of course. If I was worried about being left alone, and that was my only worry, then it would make sense for me to kill everyone else. It would be a brazen lack of empathy for me to kill everyone else just because I wanted to be left alone.
How much more empathy is really involved, though, if, rather than killing everyone myself, I munched on popcorn while I watched everyone kill each other?
I was recently told that I lack empathy for this hispanic woman’s plight. She was huddling in fear, terrified of President Trump, and feared for her life. She is right, of course, to say that I feel no empathy for her plight, but that’s because her “plight” is a figment of her imagination, and it’s ridiculous. Not only is it ridiculous, I think most of America also thinks it’s ridiculous, and I think that’s why they elected Trump. I have enough empathy for these people to realize that they’re not to blame because they have been convinced that the monsters under their bed are real, just as I’m aware that my father and grandmother aren’t to blame for the religiously-motivated damage they did to me. Like me, they are victims of their own religiously-motivated damage, and they simply paid it forward because they didn’t know any better.
I’m not special. If anything, I was probably lucky to be at the right place at the right time with the right mindset at that particular moment to have my worldview challenged. I refuse to let myself think something like, “No, it’s still their fault, because they should have asked questions and challenged the worldview that they were taught to believe!” I refuse that, because that is a statement of arrogance itself. It places me into a tier of people who are particularly strong/intelligent/reasonable/whatever, and it leaves them behind, those dumb, ridiculous people who never challenge what they are told.
I refuse to believe that, just as I refuse to believe that I’m smarter than anyone else. I refuse to be governed by my ego, and, believe me, my ego doesn’t like that. Earlier today I emailed someone:
I forgot that I’m so awesome I set up K. to be able to access the program from anywhere even though [the people who made the program] said they didn’t think it would work.
I was, of course, joking but not really. It was awesome, and it was far from the first time I did something really awesome like that. But it wasn’t awesome because I’m special, and that’s why I’m okay with making jokes like that–it was awesome because I was in the right place at the right time with the right perspective and the right knowledge to do it. Anyone could have done it. I was simply the one who did.
Liberals have been in their echo chambers for so long that they’ve simply lost all perspective on everything. Look, I read an article earlier about how–and I am not kidding about this–college professors allowed their students who were so traumatized by Trump’s victory to skip mid-terms and instead spend the day laying in the floor, coloring, and playing with Play-Doh. It’s such an astounding thing that I thought it had to be from a satire news site. Then I decided that the professor had to have been trolling when he offered his class full of grown adults the opportunity to play like five year old children. However, I followed the trail until I came to the original post, and it may still not be true, given that it’s from a blog at the Wall Street Journal, but I’m betting it’s true, because I know some colleges have established “safe spaces” where they have coloring books and liquid for blowing bubbles.
Kinda lends an entirely new dimension to my statement that they’re little babies pitching a fit and trying to cry and get their mom to buy them the candy bar that she said they couldn’t have, doesn’t it?
It’s nothing short of astounding. All of the mockery we get for saying that universities have become pandering, expensive daycare centers, and this is what happens–at a university today, students laid in the floor, colored, and played with Play-Doh. But no, these aren’t grown man-children and woman-children.
I was told earlier to have empathy for the old women who wanted to live to see a female president. I was told this because I said to someone that I’d rather see gender not matter. Then this happened.
I was mistaken initially when I said that it’s not a matter of empathy. It is a matter of empathy, as I ultimately realized and stated at the end. There was something off about his reasoning. I initially was going to say that I felt bad for all the Magic: The Gathering fans who didn’t live to see the day that we elected a president who played MTG, but I deleted it a few times throughout the thread without ever sending it. That’s what it’s all about, though. If someone is caring about something that shouldn’t matter so much that they become dejected and depressed about it, then the position of empathy is not to express sympathy but to help them get past that so that they are no longer sad and upset.
Empathy drives you to help someone, without exception and without fail. If one is not driven to help, then it is Virtue Signaling and empty sympathy. Oh, that’s it. See, they don’t mean empathy. They mean:
See, when we say “empathy” we mean it in its actual, literal sense: feeling compassion and having the ability to identify with other people. When they say it, they mean empty sympathy, and they say “empathy” as short-hand, the same way people say “lol” as short-hand for “that’s funny.”
That’s what this person meant. He said “empathy” by mistake, but at best he meant “sympathy.” I’m coming to the conclusion that “empathy” is the least understood word in the United States–literally. I say “literally,” of course, because “literally” is at least tied for that position. I use the word “literally” a lot, but I always mean it literally, and that’s where things get weird, because when people say “Trump is LITERALLY Hitler”–it is mandated in at least 17 states and the Dominican Republic that if you use the phrase “literally Hitler,” then the word “literally” must appear in all caps, of course–they don’t mean the word “literally” literally.
And when you find yourself writing that someone doesn’t use the word “literally” literally, it might occur to you that you have gone way past the point of return into the liberal’s head, and there’s no turning back now.
I present to you this hypothetical scenario. There is an old woman crying on the bench as she waits for the bus, mumbling to herself that she was really looking forward to seeing the first female president. You can:
A. Express sympathy and essentially cry with her.
B. Try to help her get past her sorrow by accepting that gender shouldn’t be a characteristic of significance when we assign values to things.
Which of these is genuine empathy? Which is virtue signaling?
It gets even worse if you remove this “empathy” from any real person and instead make a post on Facebook about it. That’s right. One now shows “empathy” by posting useless platitudes on social media. You know.
To help people who may or may not exist deal with being maybe or maybe not upset about something that may or may not be a problem but shouldn’t be anyway.
What could possibly be a better expression of empathy than posting on Facebook to help people who may or may not exist?
They have been so confused for such a very long time that they don’t see how a group of adults laying in the floor and playing with Play-Doh is pathetic in at least seventeen thousand different directions all at once. If you asked me if I needed to take the day off to color in a coloring book and process the trauma of Trump winning the election, I would ask you to repeat that because I couldn’t hear you over the sound of your ovaries drying up. Then I would ask you at what age you were when you decided that being a pussy wasn’t enough, and that you wanted to be a fucking fag. Then, if you hadn’t been reduced to a crying mess in the floor trying to crawl to your safe space to blow bubbles, I would tell you to get your ass up and at least pretend to be an adult who is equipped to deal with the world.
Yet when we say that these people are children, we’re criticized. And there they are… playing with Play-Doh.
Their entire world is Orwellian. Black is white; white is black. Strength is weakness; weakness is strength. Obviously, this leads directly into the glorification of victimization. How could it not? If a person believes that strength is bad and weakness is good, they will immediately fall in love with the Martyr Complex. A victim is, to speak in the most general terms, a weak person who was harmed by a strong person. To them, the victim is the realization of the Uberman, a living embodiment of all the traits they admire; of course they would glorify victimization. To them, there is nothing more beautiful, precious, noble, and virtuous than a victim.
I have no idea how we can reach people who have spent so long in their own echo chambers that they’ve become that confused, but their ideal society is clearly one where the average person has to be protected from reality itself. That’s what happened with these people coloring and playing with Play-Doh as they cried. Brittle, special little snowflakes that have to be coddled and protected from absolutely anything and everything.
“Pet,” by A Perfect Circle, of course, was written regarding George W. Bush and his War on Terror. I wonder if Maynard–who by all accounts is a smart guy–has noticed that it’s far more appropriate if taken as a message from liberals than conservatives.
Pay no mind to what other voices say. They don’t care about you like I do.
That could straight-up be Hillary Clinton referring to Wikileaks and its alleged “Russia” ties.
I don’t know what to do, guys. All of my personal interactions with liberals, as well as what I see in the media, suggest that they are hopelessly lost. The reality check that will come when Trump becomes President despite their hissy fit will not be anywhere near enough to begin pulling them back from the cliff they’ve marched up to. They dream of a world where the government does everything and solves all problems, where they are totally relieved of individual responsibility, where they are all victims and the precious government protects them from everything, where everything they want is provided to them free of charge and the entire working class becomes their slaves–to stop those wicked slaves from oppressing them. They want that. They need that.
They believe this shit so fervently that they want middle America to die.
I’m starting to think I was far too generous in my message to liberals.
Their worldview is dependent upon the idea that middle America is racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic, and all that other crap, and that middle America is a bloodthirsty tyrant-in-waiting who must be held on a tight leash at all times, because otherwise they will LITERALLY set up death camps. This is the lie that justifies all of their other crap.
Maybe it’s not too late. Maybe having the person they consider LITERALLY Hitler in charge and having none of that shit happening can get through to them and make them realize that they’re jumping at shadows that aren’t even there because, despite what they imagine to be happening in their heads, they’re actually sitting in darkness and playing with Play-Doh like children while the world goes on outside their self-imposed isolation chamber, leaving them totally oblivious to everything that’s happening because they want to be protected from it.