Act Now! – Empathy as a Weapon (Part 3)

“For nineteen dollars a month, you can personally save little Jimmy and receive updates on little Jimmy’s health and … “, spare me the bullshit. People use the fact that others act on affective empathic responses to things shown to them. These same people are often trying to illicit an immediate response to a non-immediate crisis, sometimes for good, but oftentimes for bad. We see this with phishing attacks in the cyberspace arena and with bad-faith tv commercials stating only you can save little Jimmy. It’s mostly horseshit.

My mother passed away earlier this year, leaving my dad basically alone in the world to atone for his past transgressions against others. His health has been declining and his demands of my time and energy have increased. This is not inherently an awful thing, but recently I decided that I was going to set boundaries. That he would not have 24/7 access to me for non-emergencies. That we would start scheduling mundane, known beforehand tasks. That we would be conscious with our requests with one another. None of these are diabolical requests. However, he seems to think that this is my way of completely abandoning him … or at least that is what he says.

He is probably on the antisocial spectrum, but he’s not very good at it. He attempted to emotionally blackmail me, appealing to my affective empathy (ha), saying that I was sealing his fate to a horrible death. I did not buy it. There are plenty of ways to be proactive in one’s twilight years, and he has chosen to act on none of it. His attempt to appeal to something I do not possess was laughable, and he did not get the response he was looking for.

Be wary of attempts to latch onto the feels you may have. While sometimes others may use the presumed affective empathy of others for good, more often than not it is an attempt to gain something for nothing. Empathy is often used as a weapon, and it takes a wise person to understand when the blades are out.

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