Having little empathy is OK

Kate Rehwinkel

Recently, it has come to my attention by a few acquaintances that I lack quite a lot of empathy that a normal person should have; however, I disagree greatly with that statement.

I have a reasonable amount of empathy, it is not excess empathy or empathy so low that I could be considered a serial killer. For example, when I watch America’s Got Talent or The Voice, they always give background on the contestant and they always seem to have a sob story, which is typically the same thing every time.

Someone close to them dies, they get diagnosed with a disease or disorder, or they are homeless. Those are not the only things but it seems like those are the three most common I see. While my friends and mom feel bad for the contestant for what happened to them, I do not because I am watching the show to see your talent, not your sob story because we all have one. Personally, I do not know the person, so I just don’t feel bad for them. I know that sounds cold but it is just how I process things.

I typically come across as cold when people first meet me because I do have a lot of opinions, I do not show emotions to people very quickly and it takes awhile for people to become my close friends. Once I let someone in I am a very empathic person and will go to the ends of the earth for my friends. I just can’t feel empathy for people I have never met and probably never will.

Even with my “lack” of empathy, I do go out and volunteer for causes that pull at my heartstrings. I do love dogs and when I graduate, I plan to volunteer at shelters during my free time. Dogs deserve my empathy, because they are dependent on humans to take care of them.

There are several other circumstances when I feel empathy for people I do not know, but I really dislike those sob stories on TV. I know the show has to fill time, but it would be more interesting if there were more cheerful stories.

While I know some of the stuff I said might sound like I have no empathy, I can guarantee that I do have a normal amount of it. I just do not have empathy for people I have never met, unless it is under certain circumstances. I think some people are quick to judge those who do not express emotion toward someone or something. It could be a lot worse; I could be a serial killer like Ted Bundy, who we all know had probably zero empathy for anyone that he killed or the families he impacted.


Kate Rehwinkel is a senior management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].