Posted on: April 7, 2020 Posted by: Glacier Staff Comments: 0

By Carolyn A. Thill

COM 151 Student

Some people would say that social media is largely to blame for the lack of empathy we see today, disconnecting us while seeming to connect us.

Commenting on the decline in empathy evidenced in her research, Sara Konrath of the University of Michigan told USA TODAY that “one reason may be that people are having fewer face-to-face interactions, communicating instead through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.” 

For years, people of all ages have been isolating themselves, locked into a device that distances them from making intimate social connections.   It’s almost as if the devil has worked enchanting efforts to break up social gatherings while poisoning our ability to express empathy.

In the past several weeks, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the entire world has succumbed to social distancing, with many countries totally locked down.

Ironically, social media has now become our savior in maintaining social connections.  Instead of meeting in the classroom, teachers and students have connected via Zoom.  Instead of gathering in the library, students have collaborated via Google docs while Facetiming their peers. And instead of speaking to a congregation in person, Don Borling, pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church has set up a daily online broadcast called Thought for the Day.

“Through these little messages, and through a live stream on Sunday, we will stay connected,” says Pastor Don.

Many of us are going bonkers being confined to our homes.  However, after getting through the first couple of weeks, families have gone from feeling lonely and depressed to bonding together while playing various games and even making videos to post to social platforms like TikTok and Facebook.  

One family recreated the Pirates of the Caribbean ride from Walt Disney World by having family members dress up as pirates and acting out skits, while two children sat on a sled and a parent pulled them through various rooms in the house. 

Another family joined in on a popular dance to the song “Baby Come Give Me Something” and posted it to TikTok.  Many people are setting up specific times to join a chat room and Facetime or Zoom with friends for coffee hour, lunch chats and even drinks; after all, it is 5 o’clock somewhere, right?  People have used social media to advertise a public sing-along where individuals would step out onto their balconies or porches and join in singing, playing instruments, and even DJ’ing.  For some, this may be the first time actually interacting with their neighbors. 

These days, people often sit alone at various places while surfing the net—the key word “surfing,” meaning not actually interacting with others.  Posts to social media are commonly impersonal, consisting of forwarding food pics or passing jokes and memes.  None of this involved listening to each other, sharing joys and laughter, or sorrows and fears–until now.  Possibly this is the way social media was intended to be used, and it took a crisis to bring it out of us.

Many folks have realized just how precious a hug, a high five, and even a simple hand shake can be. Now we are remembering how wonderful it is to spend quality time with our family and friends, and how looking up while commenting to a stranger brings joy to our lives as we express empathy while taking an interest in each other. 

Now, as you read this through the help of the internet, pause, reflect, and then share by posting to your favorite social media platform as we exercise our social distancing.  Then, reach out and love someone.

Carolyn A. Thill can be reached at