Advice for Greater Empathy- the Dangers of Inspiration Porn

I don’t know how many times I’ve been called an inspiration by friends or just people I’m having a personal discussion with.  I think it would greatly benefit everyone in general to learn about how to help others in having greater empathy-  counter to general belief, there is also usually a “better” way to show your empathy with someone you care about… of course, there are the typical “I’m so sorry for your loss” or those standard sayings, and while they’re not “wrong”, I often find a lot of people are completely oblivious or unsure of what the right things are to say to someone in need.  Of course, to a certain degree, different kinds of words or actions to show solidarity or other types of things work for different kinds of people and characters, but if one were more willing to open their eyes and minds more, they would find that there are usual sayings or things people do that are actual less helpful than they think… and actually kind of useless and frustrating for the person hearing it.  If one is interested, there are always more specific, better ways to gain understanding and empathy, and to show it.

One of the things that I find vital for people to learn is the right wording and the right timing for it.  I am not an inspiration simply by default for dealing with a chronic condition- some people might find this comforting, but be careful in who it is and making sure what the situation is – illnesses and health conditions vary as much as the individual human experience in anything else.  If they grew up totally fine managing their health, why go out of your way to tell someone in a wheelchair they’re an inspiration and singling them out like that, and without first understanding what their struggles are, if they are even what you assume they are?

If perhaps they recounted how difficult it was to rehabilitate themselves after a hospital run or something, it might then be acceptable to say you’re inspiring for pushing yourself to get better, or for opening up, or for using their experiences and platform to further a cause and raise awareness.

It pisses me off when I see some video on facebook with a girl in a wheelchair singing her ass off, and somehow that being by default, “inspirational.”  Do her legs have anything to do with her pipes?  If not, then why is it inspirational?  That’s the wrong use of the word, and what I would label under “Inspiration porn”-  you posted that and made an immediate assumption because you saw she was in a wheelchair, and it made you feel more driven or blessed in your life somehow.  You can be grateful for your own health and appreciate her vocal ability without denoting it to her physical ability to walk, or to think wow that person’s life must suck, I feel better about mine.  That’s WRONG.

 

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