And by black I mean the color of the souls of everyone who are glued to their device (myself included). In order to continue the evolution in our relationship with technology, organizations will need to deeply and holistically embrace empathy as the North Star for their business models, not just their marketing.
It’s incredible to observe as society moves in two seemingly opposite directions, simultaneously: first is being alone with ones devices and gadgets. The second, is using those gadgets to ‘be together’ with other people – ironically, the people that one is avoiding by being on one’s device. As a culture, we have been trained by objects which cannot emote, cannot sense and cannot empathize. The hardware makers, software authors and those configuring technology are now responsible for ensuring the experiences humanity has are not devoid of sentiment; a dangerous proposition during the infancy of a new age.
Empathy is simple concept: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
It stems from Greek, the combination of ‘in’ and ‘feeling’ – in-feeling. Makes sense.
The use of empathy as a term or concept within western society doesn’t significantly register until the middle of the 20th century. Somewhere in the 1940’s the word begins to arrive in western (culture not genre) artifacts with some traceability. It climbs steadily for the next 60 years and by 2010 it hits an all-time high.
Interestingly, the adoption of individual, portable super computers (a.k.a. mobiles) rises during this time. Though more abruptly (due to their recent creation) the trend lines are similar when analyzed from the start point of mobile computing adoption.
Usage of the term Empathy
Mobile computing adoption
Computer processing power
The evolution of digital began for most people when web pages were served up on their office or educational computers. There are some preceding events, but for the masses, these moments were the first that began to shape how humans would engage with simpler access to volumes of information we previously had difficulty retrieving.
Our reaction was generally, ‘What can I do with this?’ and as such, the relationship between device and human was controlled by humans. The computer sat humming, only able to engage with its human, when the human wanted to. And largely our interactions with software and hardware were based on things other humans had prompted us to do: email, document reviews, publishing, etc…