Empathy is one of the greatest gifts that we, as humans, can have. It is the emotional bond that connects us with our family members and friends. While the way we express our empathy towards others may be different, the goal is always the same: acknowledging the vulnerability of who you are talking to, listening to what they have to say, and showing your support (Adichie). Expressing empathy currently can be extremely difficult as we are confined to technology as our primary form of communication; however, our society’s creative nature has found ways to counter our restrictions and show support.
One example of this creativity comes from hospitals. Every day people are diagnosed with cancer. A diagnosis can be one of the scariest moments for the person as well as their loved ones. Although they can communicate their struggles, it is hard for families to understand the feelings of their loved ones entirely. Similarly, it is also hard for doctors to help cure the disease when they cannot understand a patient’s symptoms. Treatment all changed when doctors started using Virtual Reality (VR).
The new technology commonly used when playing video games can now simulate different disease symptoms that may impede eyesight. A study of this technology reported that “60 percent of physicians said that it [Virtual Reality] had changed the way they would view and treat patients suffering from side effects of ongoing chemotherapy” (Wiederhold 577). During the times of Covid-19, technology is being used for families to communicate with their sick loved ones.
By providing patients with an iPad to talk to their families, they can speak to their families about their feelings. Subsequently, allowing patients to talk to others is also known to “ease the workload of a medical team” (Hafner). Although using technology is not the ideal form of contact, the new ways to stay connected allow empathy in relationships to stay connected from a distance.
Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi. “The Danger of a Single Story.” TED, July 2009, www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.
Hafner, Katie. ‘A Heart-Wrenching Thing’: Hospital Bans on Visits Devastate Families. 29 Mar. 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/03/29/health/coronavirus-hospital-visit-ban.html.
Riva, Giuseppe, et al. “Positive Technology and COVID-19.” Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., Publishers, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., 8 Sept. 2020, www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2020.29194.gri.