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.