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How about that empathy

As much as I could, want to–and need to–there isn’t too much time for me to post right now. But I wanted to drop down a thought here. A snarky, spicy one. On empathy.

Yesterday, I was listening to Design Observer and Group Therapy, and hosts were discussing the unexpected universality of this truly shared human experience. As someone who has been called “Empathy Robot” before, the startling similarities between two discussions on very different podcasts pinged my subroutines, so to speak. We designers are some of the most inauthentic and even irresponsible proponents of empathy. The crux of empathy is being able to enter communion with the experience of another. Claiming to be able to have empathy for users as we enable the creation of things that we implicitly know will undermine their dignity…well that’s a variable load of bullshit, right?

For the first time in many of our designer lives, we’ll actually know empathy. I wonder what that’s going to do to all of us once we come out the other side of all of this. Will we throw around that word so cheaply?