What is that smell? Perhaps people should take a break from flinging turds and wash their hands!
Empathy at its most basic level is emotional contagion. We unconsciously just pick up on the level of emotional/physiological arousal of our peers and tend to match it. If they are alert, we become alert. If they are relaxed, we relax. Everyone is responding to everyone else. When we become aroused or alert, we scan the environment for threats or opportunities and what we find, or think we find, becomes the rationalisation for how we feel. How we feel is pretty much a function of how the people around us feel. This is why there is truth in the meme:
"Before you diagnose yourself with depression, make sure you are not surrounded by arseholes!"At the moment, a lot of people I know feel threatened by Donald J Trump, though really they seem to be picking up on the media hype about him, i.e. suffering from emotional contagion planted by companies that trade on stimulating negative emotions. They are pouring out emotional signals of distress and arousal. Threat signals. There's a kind of hysteria. This is not new.
When Obama won the Presidency the first time the same kind of thing happened, but it was jubilation for the people I know. Everyone seemed to catch it. But I just said, "He's a politician. You cannot judge him on what he said he would do, you have to judge him retrospectively on what he did." For example, Obama said he would close the Guantanamo Bay prison in the first 100 days of his Presidency. Eight years (~ 2900 days) later it is still there. With a hostile Congress the whole time, Obama was mostly pretty ineffective. Some of his acts, like the systematic assassination of US enemies by drone strikes, seem far from the optimistic, morally upright figure than made everyone so jubilant 8 years ago, with his "Yes, we can!" slogan.
Similarly Trump is unlikely to be as bad as the hype currently going around. He'll also face a hostile Congress and Senate full of people he climbed over to get to the top. But we won't really know what he does or can do until he's sworn-in and starts being President. He has yet to name his cabinet, let alone have it approved by the Senate.
I wish everyone would calm the fuck down in the meantime. You're driving me nuts! Can't we face the apocalypse with some dignity?