Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech Obsessed World

By: Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP®

You may have noticed, at Diversified Lifelong Advisors we’re really trying to help our clients achieve wealth, health, and happiness in many aspects of their lives. It’s a serious task we’ve set for ourselves, but one that’s certainly worth the investment.

At our firm, we strive to help clients achieve a peace of mind that their goals are not only set, but met, and all with a focus on their overall wellbeing. If we can assist in that process, I’d truly feel great about our partnership, and that we’re delivering something unique and impactful.

Staying on this theme, hopefully you’ve gotten a chance to view my first vlog series last week. I intend to do these once a month from now on to provide more value in your relationship with Diversified. My inaugural interview was with Kaitlin Ugolik Phillips, the author of The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech Obsessed World. It was a fun interview, and I figured it would make sense to summarize it, and all future ones, in blog format after each one I do.

Alright, so here goes nothing!

In speaking with Kaitlin, I learned she was inspired to write this book because of a big issue in our country. It’s one that I’ve noticed myself on many occasions. Her cause for concern is the way technology is making us less human. More concerning is what the long-term effects will be on our abilities to communicate with one another and develop feelings. Specifically, Kaitlin puts our empathy under a microscope.

Having recently watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, I found this topic very interesting. It’s a concerning documentary on what big tech is doing to rope us into using their platforms. Anecdotally, I’ve seen how this “tech addiction” is already influencing human interactions. Go out to dinner and take a look around. Are there couples who aren’t conversing and instead on their phones? How about children at the adult table who’re given a piece of technology to keep them busy?

Or how about friends who haven’t seen each other in a while, but who’re constantly texting and taking pictures of their food, rather than engaging in conversation?

Now let me ask a very straightforward question. Raise your hands if you’ve been guilty to any of the technology addictions mentioned above? I’ll bet almost all of your hands are up.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine what this is doing for us as a society and our interpersonal communication and development? What are the long term affects? Will kids not look you in the eyes when they talk to you? As a society, we’re still learning the long-term implications as this is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Kaitlin goes a step further and talks about how this can lead to the lack of empathy for us as humans. It makes sense when you think about it. If we’re not as engaged in human interaction because of all the technology at our finger tips, and there are no longer repercussions to online comments (as we can hide behind a computer screen), where does that lead us as an empathetic culture?

I find this very thought provoking. When I grew up, if you insulted someone you had two repercussions. One, you can see how it hurt their feelings and process that as a human being. Or two, get a punch to the face, and thus you had another consequence. The concern here is real and Kaitlin has some great insights.

What’s the Solution?

Now that I’ve laid out the problem (which many different publications have also done), the question is how can we use this knowledge to better ourselves and be happier and healthier people?

  1. Identify the Problem – We’ve not done that.
  2. Take Action as Individuals – Being aware the problem exists is the first step. The second is to put real action in place. Start small with less screen time, or use technology more productively (rather than destructively). All of our cell phones can set limits for us and our kids for usage. Make a game out of reducing your weekly usage and reward your children for not going down the rabbit hole of screen time.
  3. Take Action as a Society – Kaitlin points out that we need to create counter technology to deal with these issues head-on. I couldn’t agree more. Here is a great article talking about different apps that can help you break free of technology dependency. Now that we’ve started down this counter technology path, let’s take control back where we can.

Final Thoughts.

I really enjoyed my interview with Kaitlin. She brought to the forefront issues I personally have dealt with and continue to do so. The question is now what? I plan to start small and I’ll keep striving for progress, not perfection. Technology isn’t going away, but we/I need to learn to have a better balance with it to stay healthy and happy.

As Kaitlin mentions, those who’re more empathetic generally are happier people, healthier both mentally and physically, have stronger interpersonal relationships, and make for better employees. I for one was sold on happier and healthier! You can learn more about Kaitlin at kaitlinugolik.com, or following her on social media @kaitlinugolik.

Hope you liked the interview and recap. As always stay Wealthy, Healthy, and Happy!

Financial planning and Investment advisory services offered through Diversified, LLC. Securities offered through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, Member FINRA/SIPC. Headquartered at 80 State Street, Albany, NY 12207. Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments and Diversified, LLC are not affiliated companies.