Apathy

I used to consider this trait as part of the same genre of “selfish”. How can you not care? Naturally, apathy was a trait I associated among the negatives. Nice, caring, enthusiastic, selfless – these were the behaviors one aspired to imbibe and embody. Kids are taught to sympathize, empathize and reject being apathetic. As adults, apathy has moved from the realm of the undesirable to one that is needed to survive. I’m not sure if the older generation experienced this, but the millennial survival kit sure includes a generous dose this trait.

The dictionary meaning of ‘apathy’ is “lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern”. This drives the modern generation to achieve goals after goals and pursue limitless ambition at whatever cost. Be it in the workplace, at school, college or even your personal life, the norm seems to be “not to care except when it is about oneself”. It is easy to see “friends” approach you when they want something from you, extremely apathetic to your conversations, issues or troubles thereafter. You meet colleagues who dismiss your concerns or friendly comments, unless it is of value to them. It is not feasible to be attentive or caring about every one in this world (although it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you could manage that). But these are not people unfamiliar to you. They are not strangers. The tunnel vision and extreme focus on one’s own well being mixed with apathy towards other issues is so commonplace today, it is almost a prerequisite to success and survival.

I still feel bad when colleagues or friends are rude and dismissive. I feel bad when I’m ignored because my words are dismissed as trash. I still care and often think about others and their troubles and empathize with them long after our conversations are done. I still ruminate over the rudeness and unsolicited curtness of co-workers. It still puzzles me that people I had lunch with the other day look past me and ignore my embarrassed hand-waving or smiling. I cannot digest when people stop responding to texts suddenly without even a “brb or something came up, ttyl” text. It still hurts to be ignored, no matter how often it happens. It is wrong to expect to be the center of the universe. No, my expectations are far from that. But the complete indifference or extremely superficial tolerance of others with interest only in your own affairs seems a bit extreme. Innit?

Then I wonder why? Am I the only one feeling this way. If not, can we not actively be less-apathetic towards others and broaden our narrow focus? I feel a detached wonder when I watch such interactions imagining how aliens would document our behavior with each other .

“Entry 1: Weird, two-legged, so-called intelligent ape-creatures work together and collaborate and have altered the planet, but they hate each other and are constantly trying to put each other down often not caring and secretly wishing ill of others.”

“How terrible, Earth doesn’t seem a pleasant place to be. We are lucky to be 4.89 million light years away. Hopefully, our planet doesn’t catch a bad case of apathy from them”.

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