This is a pretty personal blog post, but maybe posting it up somewhere will help people understand me a little better or maybe help myself feel a bit better and get some input.
By now you will have heard about the massive quake down in Christchurch which has caused significant damage and a large [by NZ-standards] loss of life.
This sort of disaster should really hit home on an emotional level for myself – Christchurch is one of the largest cities in NZ after Wellington and Auckland – and Wellington, my home town, is just as, if not more, earthquake prone than Christchurch.
There’s also been a lot of people killed, and unlike most disasters, actual New Zealanders – I could even have been there – yet another reason that I should be feeling sad, or empathetic in relation to this whole situation.
Yet I don’t care.
Many of my fellow people seem to – I’ve seen heaps of the following messages in the last few days along the lines of:
- “Blinking away the tears as I sit here reading heartbreaking stories, feeling very ineffectual. Wish there was something I could do.”
- “Just spent 15m on the phone to a seismologist friend. What he told me actually made me vomit. This is scary.”
- “I hate that the numbers are starting to roll in now :( makes it a whole new level of real.”
- “Yeah, it’s so much more horrifying. I just can’t comprehend it right now.”
- “Remember- if watching the coverage is causing high levels of anxiety turn it off, take a break. hug someone you love, breathe.”
I’m sorry, but I can’t relate. I *know* that it’s a very sad/tragic event, but I just can’t feel anything for the people involved…. This makes me sound like some kind of soul-less murderer, but I’ve noticed it particularly in the past few years, an inability to relate to feel for others, really a lack of empathy in general.
To make it worse, I’m actually genuinely excited and interested in the whole infrastructure handling side of the event, rather than the people – to me, people are just things that get in the way – I want to know how the data networks are working, how the electricity grid is handling, whether the buildings were built to sufficient standards, how the government is handling supply distribution and more.
The cause is arguable – maybe there is something wrong with me (trust me, I’ve been told to see a psychiatrist before and a few people suspect mild aspergers tendencies), or maybe I’m just a complete self-fish jerk underneath everything. :-/
I’m suspecting it’s just the way I’m wired – if I really was a complete jerk, I wouldn’t be trying to analysis this and I can still identify between right and wrong – after all, I am intentionally a vegetarian because I belive in the right/wrong of killing animals.
The annoying this is, I want to care about these things, yet I’m unable to do so in quite the same way – although there are advantages, during a crisis people tell me that I’m “strong” or “make them feel better”, probably because I’m the one who’s just rocking along as normal unimpaired by the events.
Before you go and get the pitchforks and tar, I’m not a *complete* monster – I still feel for people who immediately impact me, but I suspect that part of this is that because they impact *me* directly, I feel sad since I personally have lost something, rather than the fact they suffered the hardship.
Yeah, I’m pretty messed up in a way. :-/ And I’m not entirely sure why.
Don’t feel too bad for not feeling bad.
I’m just happy because although the place where I work is screwed, it’s going to be full of customers over the next few months, and I get paid commission. While I do feel sad for all the lives lost, all I can think about is the money I’ll be earning. :/
dude, that’s not messed up at all. Everyone reacts to crisis and stress differently. It’s those differences in reaction that keep us all going. I have more to say later, now i’m in busy mode volunteering my time for some charity
I think it’s one thing to acknowledge you don’t feel a connection, another perhaps to admit in private that you can’t relate or don’t particularly care about it, but to blog with words like “I just don’t care” is incredible.
You say you may have “mild aspergers tendencies” and “it’s just the way I’m wired” like they’re some kind of cool badge or label or something. An excuse.
You don’t have to be a crying mess about stuff like this, but what people down there are experiencing is hell like you would not believe and blogs like this just piss on that.
Go out and do something for someone else – a charity or whatever. Find out how people less fortunate than you are. Empathy can be taught.
I can’t believe someone would actually publically blog something like this.
You’re so narcissistic you’re probably not even going to post this comment.
hi Anon, nice to see you again – I always get the very best hate mail from you. :-)
It’s a pity you can’t comprehend the fact that I want to feel for the people of Christchurch, but I can’t find a way to make it happen – this blog post has been particularly interesting, I’ve had emails from a number of people experiencing the same problem and have found it valuable to discuss.
Oh and in regards to not actually posting this? sadly you’re wrong – I’m so narcissistic that I will actually approve the comment so that I can then enjoy the fact that for some reason you hate me entirely and yet are happy to spend time sending me emails and posting rude comments to my blog, thus get a sense of self-satisfaction and pleasure from how important you think I am that you must comment against me.
OK, not really, but I don’t like censorship either – just a shame you’re too pathetic to actually post under your real name – still, you did make the mistake from posting from a static IP address at either your workplace or a customer site, so I’ll have a chat to the people at $censored_employer and see if we can trace where your repeated abuse is coming from.
So a further update – managed to track down the company that this person posted from (reverse DNS oh yeah) and said person got a bit of a shock to find out they had been tracked.
Sadly I don’t know their identity so won’t know if it’s someone I ever interact with IRL or not, kind of a shame – I can respect someone who disagrees with me and is up front about who they are, I can’t respect someone who hides and attacks and maybe pretends to be friendly to me.
I removed the company name from the above comment as thanks to their staff doing the tracking for me, don’t think it’s fair to give that company a bad name for one messed up employee.
Normally I wouldn’t really care about it, but I really want to track down the person(s) who have been posting me abusive messages and emails over the past year – I suspect this person may have been responsible for negative comments on other Welington twitter people blogs so I’m keen to see them outed.
Empathy can be taught? Yeah right!
I suggest you find somebody that actually knows what they’re talking about when it comes to ASD. Most Aspies would give up anything to be able to empathise with others.
I think it’s refreshing that Jethro chose to share this information with us. There will be a lot of people out there feeling the same way he does, and having no idea why. Aspergers is extremely isolating, and it’s certainly not helped by comments from ignorant and wrongly opinionated people like you “An Observer”.
The thing is, Jethro, people like you *are* good in a crisis – because you can make decisions based on reason, rather than emotion, and can think about the practical side of things that others can’t.
Also, one factor of “newsworthiness” – whether a media outlet will publish a news story – is if it is local. Because NZ is such a small country, something happening anywhere in NZ is generally considered local – but for you, your local is perhaps simply much closer.
@An Observer – at least Jethro is grown up enough to admit this and analyse it on his personally-branded blog that likely gets read by everyone from his Mum to his employer to his girlfriend and a whole host of other people. Why did you feel the need to respond in what you felt was an anonymous fashion? I suspect (although of course this is just a guess) that you don’t actually know Jethro that well, because it seems you don’t really know what you are dealing with. Fear the wrath of geeks.