To empathize is to value others

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

Headlines scream ‘read me’ and focus on shock and relevance. We want to constantly be in the know, but sometimes the rush for news sources to break news first leads to denying people their humanity.

An extremely drastic example of this is when TMZ broke the news first about the deaths of Kobe and Gianna Bryant in a helicopter crash before the Bryant family had been informed and before authorities had confirmed the tragic accident.

Imagine learning from TMZ your husband and daughter had died before getting confirmation from authorities. Their privacy and their lives were invaded by an organization that valued ratings over people.

News sources obviously want to break news first and get the recognition, but the challenge is deciding if the timing is sensitive to the people involved. In this case, it should have been easy to wait.

Now, COVID-19 is causing death and huge changes in plans, which is allowing the virus to dominate in the news. This is affecting real people’s lives, and the news should respect these stories as such.

People around the world are losing loved ones to COVID-19, and we shouldn’t have to wait for it to happen to us for us to empathize with others. We can’t look at these numbers as a statistic. They were someone’s brother, sister, mother or father. Beyond that, they are human beings.

In the time of a pandemic, it’s also important to let families grieve and give them space. We want to read stories about people’s experiences to better understand what we’re dealing with right now, but we can’t forget these are real people.

Empathy is the most pivotal human trait. Without it, how can we make the world a better place? How can we work together to conquer injustice? How can we be inspired to help those in need?

We can blame the news sources if we want, but we have to take personal responsibility for what we click on and what we look for in the news. The types of articles that get the most traffic are going to continue to be written.

People complain that all that is on the news is negative events, but at the same time, they wouldn’t be interested in watching or reading about regular occurrences. We desire oddities.

The biggest thing we are missing when it comes to watching or reading the news is we separate ourselves from the situation and see the people in the stories as otherworldly. When we take away empathy, we lose the humans in the stories and forget they are real. We forget they are just the same as we are.

Just because you don’t know someone personally or a situation doesn’t affect you doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care. We are all people. We all have complexities and feelings.