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Thoughts and Prayers

000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/4/2015 11:13:16 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Just a small rant in light of the recent tragedies:

I've really grown tired of hearing "my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims." When the statement was first formulated, I can only imagine that it was meant to express sincere concern, but now it's so overused that it expresses nothing. This is just an empty, platitudinous statement -- an emotionally vacuous expression -- a pedantry to effect a sense of propriety or feign concern where there isn't any. If you these events truly, genuinely elicited pain for you, then it would occur to you to say something unique.

If you want to console someone, then your words have to give form to the distinct ache or empathy you feel viscerally for someone else's plight. To rely on a prepackaged statement that already saturates social commentary on the event is to show that you desire to skip the communicative value of the speech (which is what helps the victims) and rely only on its functional value as an appropriate thing to say (which is what helps you).

The effect, I imagine, is that people who hear this will only feel more isolated in their pain, knowing that these politicians aren't really thinking about it, aren't affected by it, and feel nothing in particular as they utter it. I hope it falls in disuse and disfavor, and it becomes the social norm that each public official (and indeed regular person) must find within himself the requisite sympathy to say something meaningful and distinct.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,285
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12/5/2015 2:35:57 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It's virtue signalling, and it's a thing because genuine, universal empathy is completely untenable. Anyone who managed to practice that would end up crippled by it, because the world is full of horror and suffering. So people cope, either by 'othering' certain groups and excluding them from empathy, or by retreating into these sorts of platitudinous social ticks which give the appearance of empathy without actually practicing it.
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
TheChristian
Posts: 1,031
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12/5/2015 3:17:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/4/2015 11:13:16 PM, 000ike wrote:
Just a small rant in light of the recent tragedies:

I've really grown tired of hearing "my thoughts and prayers go out to the victims." When the statement was first formulated, I can only imagine that it was meant to express sincere concern, but now it's so overused that it expresses nothing. This is just an empty, platitudinous statement -- an emotionally vacuous expression -- a pedantry to effect a sense of propriety or feign concern where there isn't any. If you these events truly, genuinely elicited pain for you, then it would occur to you to say something unique.

If you want to console someone, then your words have to give form to the distinct ache or empathy you feel viscerally for someone else's plight. To rely on a prepackaged statement that already saturates social commentary on the event is to show that you desire to skip the communicative value of the speech (which is what helps the victims) and rely only on its functional value as an appropriate thing to say (which is what helps you).

The effect, I imagine, is that people who hear this will only feel more isolated in their pain, knowing that these politicians aren't really thinking about it, aren't affected by it, and feel nothing in particular as they utter it. I hope it falls in disuse and disfavor, and it becomes the social norm that each public official (and indeed regular person) must find within himself the requisite sympathy to say something meaningful and distinct.

Empathy is overrated. Having empathy can cause mental meltdowns, emotional meltdowns, and depression.
Romanii
Posts: 4,852
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12/5/2015 5:40:48 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
A lot of the things we say have devolved into just that -- meaningless formulaic phrases, used only for the sake of social conformity. Nothing can really be done about it. Convenient cop-outs like that will always exist. Once one falls out of favor, another will take its place.
000ike
Posts: 11,196
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12/5/2015 9:15:18 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/5/2015 2:35:57 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
It's virtue signalling, and it's a thing because genuine, universal empathy is completely untenable. Anyone who managed to practice that would end up crippled by it, because the world is full of horror and suffering. So people cope, either by 'othering' certain groups and excluding them from empathy, or by retreating into these sorts of platitudinous social ticks which give the appearance of empathy without actually practicing it.

That's true, empathy is a scarce commodity. But I think this 'thoughts and prayers' statement is uniquely shallow, because in some sense it's a lie. "I'm sorry for your loss" is another platitude, but at least it doesn't really profess more is really felt -- and I guess context matters too, it's something you would say to the bereaved in person, which is probably why it seems more meaningful to me.

'thoughts and prayers', ....'pray for paris'.... having people say these things again and again and again thoughtlessly, monotonously, is frankly worse than if they all elected to say nothing.
"A stupid despot may constrain his slaves with iron chains; but a true politician binds them even more strongly with the chain of their own ideas" - Michel Foucault
lamerde
Posts: 1,416
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12/7/2015 11:41:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/5/2015 9:15:18 PM, 000ike wrote:
That's true, empathy is a scarce commodity. But I think this 'thoughts and prayers' statement is uniquely shallow, because in some sense it's a lie. "I'm sorry for your loss" is another platitude, but at least it doesn't really profess more is really felt -- and I guess context matters too, it's something you would say to the bereaved in person, which is probably why it seems more meaningful to me.

'thoughts and prayers', ....'pray for paris'.... having people say these things again and again and again thoughtlessly, monotonously, is frankly worse than if they all elected to say nothing.

I agree with you that the statement is empty, but I disagree that it's meaningless. I can think of several instances where there were tragedies on the same scale as (or worse than) what happened in Paris, and people said nothing. "Pray for Paris" indicated that people were thinking about Paris at all, and I think does say something about what our society chooses to care about (which has further implications).
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Maikuru
Posts: 9,112
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12/8/2015 12:01:38 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/7/2015 11:41:00 PM, lamerde wrote:
At 12/5/2015 9:15:18 PM, 000ike wrote:
That's true, empathy is a scarce commodity. But I think this 'thoughts and prayers' statement is uniquely shallow, because in some sense it's a lie. "I'm sorry for your loss" is another platitude, but at least it doesn't really profess more is really felt -- and I guess context matters too, it's something you would say to the bereaved in person, which is probably why it seems more meaningful to me.

'thoughts and prayers', ....'pray for paris'.... having people say these things again and again and again thoughtlessly, monotonously, is frankly worse than if they all elected to say nothing.

I agree with you that the statement is empty, but I disagree that it's meaningless. I can think of several instances where there were tragedies on the same scale as (or worse than) what happened in Paris, and people said nothing. "Pray for Paris" indicated that people were thinking about Paris at all, and I think does say something about what our society chooses to care about (which has further implications).

Truth. It seems some groups aren't even worth our platitudes.
"You assume I wouldn't want to burn this whole place to the ground."
- lamerde

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Skepsikyma
Posts: 8,285
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12/8/2015 5:36:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 12/5/2015 9:15:18 PM, 000ike wrote:
At 12/5/2015 2:35:57 PM, Skepsikyma wrote:
It's virtue signalling, and it's a thing because genuine, universal empathy is completely untenable. Anyone who managed to practice that would end up crippled by it, because the world is full of horror and suffering. So people cope, either by 'othering' certain groups and excluding them from empathy, or by retreating into these sorts of platitudinous social ticks which give the appearance of empathy without actually practicing it.

That's true, empathy is a scarce commodity. But I think this 'thoughts and prayers' statement is uniquely shallow, because in some sense it's a lie. "I'm sorry for your loss" is another platitude, but at least it doesn't really profess more is really felt -- and I guess context matters too, it's something you would say to the bereaved in person, which is probably why it seems more meaningful to me.

'thoughts and prayers', ....'pray for paris'.... having people say these things again and again and again thoughtlessly, monotonously, is frankly worse than if they all elected to say nothing.

I think that it depends on the person making it. I know Christians from whom 'I'll pray for them' actually meant something profound. I've also known mostly cultural Christians for whom it was a cop-out, or even a form of condescension. As you said, context definitely matters, in this case. It actually reminds me of the bible verse that warns against praying in public places, in order to gain the worldly reward of prestige.

"And when thou prayest, be not as the hypocrites: for they love to stand and pray in the Synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, because they would be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

But when thou prayest, enter into thy chamber: and when thou hast shut thy door, pray unto thy Father which is in secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."
"The Collectivist experiment is thoroughly suited (in appearance at least) to the Capitalist society which it proposes to replace. It works with the existing machinery of Capitalism, talks and thinks in the existing terms of Capitalism, appeals to just those appetites which Capitalism has aroused, and ridicules as fantastic and unheard-of just those things in society the memory of which Capitalism has killed among men wherever the blight of it has spread."
- Hilaire Belloc -
TheFlex
Posts: 1,745
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12/8/2015 8:45:13 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I can say personally through some of the hardships I've had I always appreciated the "You're in our/my thoughts and prayers.", whether it was genuine or not. It gave me a little boost in moral and spirit.