The research finds that college students today show 40% less empathy vs. students in the 1980s and 1990s. The students are less likely to agree with statements such as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” and “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.”
This falls under the assumption that those two sentences are the only definitions of empathy. They aren’t. College students these days are literally overnight activists, seizing opportunities to get involved and make a difference. To donate money and supplies to Haiti, for example, and encourage their friends on Facebook and Twitter to do the same.
I find it a little ridiculous that even though words like friend, communication, and connected have all evolved in meaning, quite radically and rapidly over the past decade, that the author didn’t suppose students today have a new, refined definition of empathy.
We’re talking about an entire generation of digital natives, who grew up with this technology that’s centered around sharing and connectedness. A group that sheds the love of privacy their parents cling to, in exchange for a digital womb of connectedness. A world where they are always on, always available, and always connected to others in their network.