After hearing that a gamer took his own life today I’ve been lost in thought for most of the day thinking about empathy. I apologize for writing three posts today – I might schedule one for the weekend. But this upset me – I mean, really upset me.
I’m not a “real” gamer – but I have enjoyed playing games over the years. I got tired of Mincraft after a month, but then I hopped onto youtube last year and started watching popular gamers like Markiplier and GrayStillPlays.
It turns out – I was gaming all wrong. I had no idea the different things you could do in Minecraft alone.
Watching these gamers, has become a bit of a morning ritual for me. As I drink my first cup of coffee and eat my breakfast, these are the youtubers I start off my day with.
And even though I didn’t watch Reckful’s channel – I’m not into a lot of the games he played – I know the gaming community is hurting right now.
One thing I love about Marikplier is that he supports his other friends who are gamers. They all get together and do multi-player game streams together.
Mark gets a lot of shade thrown at him. I think it’s jealousy a lot of times. People are jealous of those who are successful and doing what they love to do.
I’ve never laughed harder than when the gang was playing Uno and Wade got so mad he broke his hand for real. It reminded me of playing the Atari with my brother back in the day.
He would get SO MAD when he lost games that he’d smash the controller into the floor. I have no idea how many controllers he actually went through.
I saw the news of Reckful’s death trending on twitter. I hopped onto Youtube to see if I could learn more. A lot of videos had already surfaced in tribute of the legendary Twitch streamer.
The sad thing is – and I talk about this topic a lot in this blog – he just did an interview three months ago on how he handles his depression. I guess he posted some pretty emotional videos lately to his fans. He’s been receiving a lot of hate comments, tweets and DM’s.
But the killer of this is – HE TWEETED up until two hours before his death.
Some are speculating that it was pressure on social media that contributed to his mental state. And as a fellow youtuber – I can tell you – the amount of hate out there on social media is disgusting.
It’s actually the reason I write this blog anonymously now. And why I don’t appear on camera for music.
I’m lucky – most of the people that come to my youtube channel are there for the music. All 49 subscribers. I get the odd spammer but for the most part – it’s chill.
I try to engage with other youtubers often and leave comments and likes to let them know that, “Yes, I appreciate their content and thank them for their videos.”
It’s real – you know. The empathy you can feel for someone you’ve never met. But if you watch them on camera almost every day for a couple of years – you FEEL like you know them.
Sympathy vs Empathy
What is empathy? People often mix up empathy with the word sympathy. Sympathy is to feel sorry for someone else.
“I’m sorry your mother died” – this is expressing sympathy.
Sympathy can be felt when a relationship ends, when a loved one dies, or even when you lose your job or something you think of as important.
Empathy on the other hand, is when you feel what the other person is feeling. I think the term Empath stemmed from an old Star Trek episode and that’s what I often use to describe myself.
Emphatic people are often sensitive to other energies around them. When there’s excitement in the room, they feed off that excitement and almost get this high – like an endorphin rush. I’ve had this many times – like every registration day when I worked at NorQuest College.
When there was tension in the office, I’d pick up on that too. I’d get headaches or this tight feeling in my stomach. I always knew when something big was going to happen – or when we were going to get some bad news.
The whispered conversations. The meetings behind closed doors. Those are all signs that something is up.
Feeling what others feel
When it came to my relationships, I would often pick up on my partner’s feelings before they even knew what was wrong. If they were mad, I knew and would pester them for answers until they finally blew up at me.
Sometimes being an empath – is a blessing, while other times it can be a curse. But mostly, it’s a curse. It’s why I’m a homebody. Noisy bars, large parties – I hate going to these places so much. I’d rather be alone in the comfort of my own home.
Empathy and world events
In times of great sadness, like when a Tsunami hit Japan in 2003, I was working a short job at an Engineering firm (very short like six weeks). I remember walking into that office with my heart heavy and I didn’t know why. When I read the news later on, a light bulb went off. Thousands and thousands of people died. The earth was hurting that day.
And I could almost feel their pain in the air. I can’t explain how it feels. I just knew something heavy happened before I even knew it happened.
When 911 happened, I was glued to my television and couldn’t shake myself out of that awful feeling. Same thing happened again just before COVID hit – I knew something was changing. I could feel this coming on for weeks ahead of time.
I said to say to Wally often, “I don’t like this. Something feels wrong,” I said and he’d shake his head at me.
Empathy as a warning signal
Years ago, back in 2000 I think, I attended Canada Day festivities with some friends at the government building. The park was overcrowded and people were starting to get rowdy as they were waiting for the fireworks. It was hot, sweltering hot.
My head started pounding. Tony, a good friend, reached for my hand and started using the pressure points technique on my hand which relieved the pain for a little bit. But then I started getting that gnawing pit in my stomach.
I looked around nervously.
“Tony, where’s Lisa?” I said. He shook his head.
“What’s wrong? he asked me.
“We need to get out of here – NOW,” I said.
“Why? Are you getting – wait, what the fuck?” he said and looked up.
We both looked up towards the steps of the Legislature building and there was a SWAT team – dressed in full SWAT gear with batons.
“Get Lisa, we need to go,” I said.
Tony nodded, and we met up with all our friends a few minutes later at the parking lot. We made it out just in time. I don’t think anything bad really happened – but the SWAT team had started making their way through the crowd. We left and went back to Lisa’s place for a couple of drinks.
Some people might tell me that this was my intuition warning me that something was happening. It could have been – but I think it was a combination of being an empath too.
The world lacks empathy
I blame the advancement of artificial intelligence and advanced technology for our lack of empathy in this technology fueled world. People, including me, are glued to their devices. They spend so much time on their phones that they ignore the world around them – and people too.
I’ve noticed this even at family events. All the teenagers and young adults will sit around a table and they are all glued to their phones. It’s like they don’t even know how to communicate with each other.
The art of communication is going out the window at the same time.
The more detached we become as humans, turning more towards artificial intelligence, we risk losing that thing that makes us human – empathy.
It’s easy to hide behind a computer screen and lash out at people you don’t know because you’re using a fake account or troll account. It’s easy to call each other names – because you think your actions have no consequences.
But let me tell you – all actions have consequences.
And we saw it today – with Reckful. A beloved gamer in the gaming community who took his own life. It’s too early to know the reasons behind why he did it – I can only speculate that social media play a big part.
The Outrage Culture
I’m glad that I grew up in a social media free world. I spend more time on Twitter blocking people. We’ve lost the ability to “agree to disagree”. People lash out because of difference of opinions. The cancel culture tries to cancel something different every day. It’s getting to the point where we won’t have any nice things in the world because everything good has been cancelled.
People are erasing history, renaming streets, because they don’t like what the names represent. People are banning books, movies, television shows and lord knows what else.
And maybe that’s why I get so angry sometimes – because as an emphatic person, picking up on other people’s emotions – I feel all that anger too.
And it makes me sad – and it’s exhausting. It exhausts you after a while.
No longer do we live in a world where people are proven guilty in the court of law. Entire careers are destroyed because of something that happened or was said – on social media.
This isn’t a “2020 sucks” posts — this is much more than that
I don’t have any parting words of wisdom today as I write this. My heart is heavy and it is full. We lost Carl Reiner yesterday and that story hurt my heart. We’ve lost Reckful today, and my heart hurts – and I didn’t even know him. But I hurt for the gaming community.
I hurt for all the things going on in the world today. The things we’ve lost due to the cancel culture. The things we’re going to lose as people continue to erase history.
And I hurt – for losing the opportunity to learn from these things. Mistakes make us human. We learn from them. We grow from them. It’s part of what being human is.
So, I guess I’ll end this by saying – next time you type angrily on your keyboard or phone – take a minute. Step back. Re-think your words. Are they hurtful? Could they drive someone to hurt themselves? How can you express your feelings without insulting the other person or putting them down?
I’m all for keyboard warriors – but please, do it with kindness.
And this isn’t a “2020 sucks so far” – this is me – a fellow empath – who is hurting for all these reasons today. And I just want to let you know that I’ll do my best to make the world a better place.
Watch with caution – there is a lot of swearing which doesn’t bother me. But this may trigger some emotions for those who have been bullied.
- Anxiety and how it can affect your health
- The art of self-care
- Coping with anger
- Dealing with difficult people