“Generation Me” and the Search for Empathy

friends-taking-selfieHow many times have you heard, “If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen”? On high school and college campuses today, it’s no secret that many students have flocked to the internet to share their spring break photos, to make or break a relationship status, and to mark some of the most important moments of their lives. As fun can these interactions can be with instant “likes” and flirtatious “pokes”, we have to sometimes question whether these stories are for others or are for a phenomenon labeled by some writers as “Generation Me”.

For “Generation Me”, the focus has been on oneself. When you visit a new place, you can “check in” using Foursquare. Instagram can make even the most mundane of life’s moments seem instantly relatable to others and perhaps beautifully captured with the use of filters. Likewise, Facebook and Twitter can help you share some up-to-the-moment kind of news, and, of course, there are trends like #SelfieSunday. This phenomenon, although a possible consequence of the digital age itself, encourages young people to focus on the intimate details of their lives and not necessarily the lives of others.

Missing from this recipe for daily interaction? Arguably, empathy, and this is a value at the heart of Everyday Ambassador. According to Merriam-Webster, empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions”, as well as “the ability to share someone else’s feelings”. Empathy, therefore, is a key asset to working in virtually any field. It seems the nature of business, volunteering, and travel today emphasizes the relationships you have with other people and your understanding of, well, their understanding of the world. However, a quick search in Google pulls up numerous articles on today’s college student being “less empathic than generations past”. To remedy this, we’ve slipped you a cheat sheet, below, of some key resources to develop your sense of empathy and to get to the heart of the matter.

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Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative
Rooted in the idea that youth can be the change, Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative is comprised of a “community of individuals and institutions dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.” In this project, elected schools work with the organization to develop complementary programs that emphasize the idea of being in someone else’s shoes. While Ashoka’s Start Empathy developments have traditionally targeted young students, it’s still possible to translate Start Empathy’s most important lessons into your life. We encourage you at Everyday Ambassador to integrate Start Empathy into your entrepreneurial work, your personal leadership development, and at any point you may be encountering a new culture or environment!

iEmpathize
iEmpathize (IE) promotes the idea that empathy itself is a powerful tool for helping end human trafficking and child slavery. Get involved by joining the IE network, fundraise for this fantastic cause, or attend an official event. At the same time, throughout different colleges and universities in the United States, student activists have invited this organization to spread its message, to present films and artwork, and to initiate a demonstration. If you like this socially-charged idea and want to bring iEmpathize to your own campus, learn more here.

Lovemarks Campus
With any new lesson in high school or college, you’re sometimes left head-scratching and wondering how the heck the thing you just learned will help you with your job. Happily, empathy is a skill and lesson that is immediately applicable, and nowhere is this more apparent than the Lovemarks Campus website. With its resources and teaching modules, the website by Saatchi & Saatchi shows you how emotional connections can help you win out in your job search, at a power luncheon, or in the marketplace.

Now it’s your turn: How do you practice empathy? Have you walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, or started your own empathy initiative? Let us know in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you!

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The Empathy Process (via Ashoka)

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“Bucket List” is a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador brand strategist Audrey del Rosario. Every Saturday, we will feature events, conferences, and happenings that spark conversation and ignite your inner activist. To stay current with our latest posts, follow #bucketlist or #EAinspired on our other platforms, and check back regularly for updates.

Image Credit: SheKnows, Start Empathy



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