Lifestyle Magazine

The Link Between Reading and Empathy

By Lisaorchard @lisaorchard1

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’ve been working on my second WIP and it’s coming along. I try to make it perfect and then I have to tell myself to relax and let the story flow. It is after all, my first draft. My seventh novel has been on the back burner, simmering while  a third Beta reader checks it out. I’ve gotten very positive feedback from the first two, so I’m crossing my fingers.:)

In between my writing times I’ve been keeping a presence on social media and I’ve gotten involved in some Twitter Chats. These chats have centered on the topic of Diversity and Social Media.

The Link between Reading and Empathy

Photo via VisualHunt

It seems to me that Social Media has allowed people to drop their masks and spew their hate for certain minorities, genders, or people of different sexual orientations. Since these people can’t see the hurt they inflict, they don’t experience the consequences of their actions, so they keep doing it.

The Link between Reading and Empathy

Photo credit: Eddi van W. via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

The reality is empathy for our fellow man is declining.  With the internet and social media, we’re more connected than we’ve ever been in our entire lives, and yet we’re struggling to be empathetic. Why?

Some researchers feel that information overload has made our brains screen out the emotionally expensive content. It’s a defense mechanism. They’ve also found the increase in screen time has an inverse relationship with empathy. Simply put, when our screen time increases our ability to empathize decreases. To learn more click this link: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/artificial-maturity/201403/why-empathy-is-declining-among-students-and-what-we-can-do

Another study states there has been a sharp decline in reading for pleasure in the last ten years. What’s interesting is that along with this decline there’s also been a decline in the ability to feel compassion for others. As an author I find that very interesting. Don’t you?

This strongly suggests reading is linked to empathy. In fact, studies have shown the number of books preschoolers read predicts their ability to empathize. To read the full article click here: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-me-care/

The Link between Reading and Empathy

 Photo credit: Brian Metcalfe via Visual hunt / CC BY

So authors keep writing don’t give up. Write those divers books and try to ignore the haters. If they don’t get a reaction they can’t continue spewing their garbage.  It’s hard to ignore them, I know, but we as a society need those books. There’s enough readers out there for all of us, so let’s band together and send out a positive vibration that obliterates their negative one. Don’t even engage with them. They’ll get the message sooner or later.


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