03 9 / 2009
The other day I was chatting with my girlfriend about our mutual friends. We noted that one of them can talk forever without any sort of feedback. With her, phone calls are just bad monologues. I wonder if she’d be better off with just an audio diary that goes “uh huh” and “wow!” depending on the inflection of her voice. (I’m sure someone’s got the technology for that. Whaddaya say, Science?) But still, she’s a friend, and she’s very sweet, so there really isn’t a reason to cut off all communication, however unilateral it is at times.
My girlfriend and I also noticed that this person completely lacks an ability to empathize with other people. And not in a particularly malicious way or anything. She just… can’t see beyond her own point of view. She won’t say thank you if you go out of your way to help her but she also won’t get mad if you don’t call her for a long time because she wasn’t really listening to you anyway.
Then we realized that the second most talkative person we know is also completely lacking empathy. As in, we have the same one-sided conversations, the same give-but-never-receive relationships. This person talks and talks and talks and shows no capacity to understand the feelings of other people. Which brings me to this hypothesis:
Is it possible that empathy is the only thing stopping us, as a species, from shutting the fuck up? That, as we’ve evolved from little monkeys, the only thing stopping us from gibbering on about bananas or the joy of picking bugs out of our own fur is the frontal lobe that separates us from lizards and fish? (those stupid, stupid fish)
Or maybe, evolutionarily speaking, the people who couldn’t evolve a sense of empathy simply got beaten to death with rocks for never shutting up. And now that we’ve got advanced stuff like agriculture and courts of law and scarves that you wear in the summer for some reason, that sort of thing is just unacceptable.
Children (particularly children around age four or five) support this theory, too, but they’d never get beaten up for talking too much because their eyes are big in proportion to their tiny bodies and our brains interpret that as fucking adorable so they get a pass (BUT JUST THIS ONCE).
Anyway, that’s what I’ve noticed. Does that make sense to anyone else or what?
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- sonnyjohl answered: At the risk of being too serious here, it reminds me of what Kahlil Gibran said of talking. bit.ly/97Ym7 (esp. the second phrase)
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- hey-shoes-on-wrong answered: Makes sense. I award you a medal of some sort. Probably not made of metal. We’re in a recession.
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- smartasshat answered: "and scarves that you wear in the summer for some reason" Brilliant randomness.
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- lnthefade answered: So, you’ve met my daughter?
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- nickapopolus answered: I think you’re on to something here. I have a friend that talks like that and she only cares about herself.
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- dwineman answered: OH MY GOD THIS IS LIKE FIVE PARAGRAPHS ENOUGH ALREADY
- whltexbread answered: I don’t know about the problem being the lack of empathy. The common thread for me is a lack of problem solving ability.
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- hurtling answered: I believe some people never shut up because then they’d have to be alone in their heads with their own thoughts and that’s too much to bear.
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- kurafire answered: I think that’s a really accurate observation. In considering it for my friends, that equation does seem to uphold for all of them.
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