The Empathy Gap

There’s a new book on bullying, Sticks and Stones, by author Emily Bazelon. I haven’t read it yet, but Bazelon’s article in the National Post today contained a phrase that I found apt: the empathy gap. I don’t know if Bazelon coined this phrase or not, but she’s spot on when she writes that the Internet creates this gap, allowing people to say and do things that they wouldn’t in a face-to-face situation.

Today’s article is about the behaviour that has lead to the recent deaths of two Canadian girls (in separate cities), and it involves sexting and online harassment. I’ve witnessed the most heartwarming emotional support online as well as the most heart-wrenching, and I can only imagine what the heart-wrenching stuff can do to a teenaged girl, or anyone else for that matter.

But that phrase — the empathy gap — really put a lump in my throat. What can I do today to bridge that gap?

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