Subscribe

The Digital Attack on Fellow-Feeling

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

A philosopher’s keynote speech on the subject of reading delivered at the annual meeting of the Writers’ Union of Canada in May and republished in the August issue of Harper’s Magazine contains startling figures that connect a rise in society-wide online activity with a drop in empathy and a rise in “narcissistic-personality disorder” in younger generations.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Mark Kingwell in Harper’s Magazine:

… the idea of a “psychological mode of introspection” that attends reading, an inwardness related to individualism. I will begin by asserting the following contradiction of late technocapitalism: we (a) are more networked than ever and yet (b) exhibit a growing deficit in that fellow-feeling usually labeled empathy. Researchers at the University of Michigan, in a 2010 study, found that American college students are 48 percent less empathetic than they were in 1979, with a sharper dip — 61 percent — having occurred in the past decade. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the prevalence of narcissistic-personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their twenties as for the generation that is now sixty-five or older. These trends strongly correlate to increasing online connectedness.

Read more, with a subscription

Advertisement

Now you can personalize your Truthdig experience. To bookmark your favorite articles, please create a user profile.

Personalize your Truthdig experience. Choose authors to follow, bookmark your favorite articles and more.
Your Truthdig, your way. Access your favorite authors, articles and more.
or
or

A password will be e-mailed to you.

Statements and opinions expressed in articles and comments are those of the authors, not Truthdig. Truthdig takes no responsibility for such statements or opinions.