"For some kinds of thought, especially moral decision-making about other people's social and psychological situations, we need to allow for adequate time and reflection," said first author Mary Helen Immordino-Yang.
Lasting compassion in relationship to psychological suffering requires a level of persistent, emotional attention. An emotional attention span that many of us bombarded with social media may be losing. The study's authors used compelling, real-life stories to induce admiration for virtue or skill, or compassion for physical or social pain, in 13 volunteers (the emotion felt was verified through a careful protocol of pre- and post-imaging interviews).
Other scientists have proposed that this reaction time may be even worse than the study claims. "In a media culture in which violence and suffering becomes an endless show, be it in fiction or in infotainment, indifference to the vision of human suffering gradually sets in," Maniel Castells exclaims. The study utilized brain imaging to show that the volunteers needed six to eight seconds to fully respond to stories of virtue or social pain.
But within six to eight second there's already another tweet to read. There's no time to feel anything. We are all becoming numb to the world.
I too am conducting a study of said emotional numbness. Here's my very scientific inquiry to test your emotional capacity to truly feel for others.
How many of you called the cops when a hacker broke into Tila's house, and posted the most ominous of twitter messages, claiming that he had killed Tila Tequila?
How many of you took a moment to feel pain or sorrow, at this potential most tragic of tragedies?
I thought so.