Empathy and emotional intelligence have become incredibly undervalued throughout the last few centuries. Society over time has morphed into one that values short-term productivity over the long-term sanity of the individual.
Enter the internet, a tool that not only provides us with crowd-sourced and seemingly infinite knowledge, but also one that provides us with the on-demand illusion of endless admiration and significance.
The 20th century created a society so discontented with its lot in life that it spawned a whole industry around escapism and living vicariously through the lives of celebrities, thus producing the grotesque entertainment vehicle that is reality TV. Combine this with the birth of social media and the smart phone – a device giving us all of the tools needed to create a very small film crew and media company – and we find ourselves in a world made up of shallow wish fulfilment and denial. We have now become so obsessed with our public self image that we now lack the empathy and emotional intelligence that could carry us into the future.
In a recent episode of powerful nonsense, we discussed the importance of empathy as a skill. We agreed that of all of the skills necessary to survive in the 21st-century as a workforce, empathy was the most important.
Productivity has moved beyond menial tasks and manual labour. We have discovered that computers can do many of these tasks much more efficiently than we can. Knowledge has now transitioned into a commodity, with answers to seemingly any question being available by merely typing words into a search bar, or even speaking to your phone. However it is widely agreed that in their current state, computers are not yet able to surpass us in terms of collaboration, creativity and curiosity. Many would agree, that in order to excel in all of these skills, one needs empathy. Without empathy you cannot have collaboration. Without empathy you cannot have curiosity. Without empathy you cannot have creativity.
The truth is that computers are so far away from true empathy in their current state, that empathy is a skill that will not be replaced or automated for decades to come.
The solution however is not to cease with our publishing online. The truth of the matter is that the personal brand is, and will continue to be, more important than it has ever been. However, those that truly excel in the future, and the next hundred years I believe, will be those who will have trained themselves to seriously consider how their actions affect other people, and those that are open and sensitive to the feelings and opinions of others.