Empathy and Bias

After a week of tackling the topic of empathy and bias and listening to people talk about how they were judged based on a certain group that they belong to, and how people should recognize and control their unconscious bias. I learned that we should avoid making such hazy generalizations and looking at a person and judging him based on a single fact/story and rather judge him/her based on what he does and say. Moreover, I learned that you’ll never actually understand the feelings of someone until you’re put in the same situation as this person.

What I learned from this week can be summed up in 3 points; the first one, discussed by Chimamanda Adichie in her video “The Danger of a Single Story”, is that one should not generalize, meaning that not because I’m part of a certain group for example my family, then I must have the same traits of other family members; in other words, not because every member of my family looks similar to one another, then we must all have same personalities and traits. Moreover, the same applies to communities, for instance, one must not say all Egyptians are or are not because being Egyptian is just part of who I am, but this is doesn’t mean that I’m like all Egyptians, so one should never generalize when judging someone; instead one should judge on what this particular person say and act.

The second point, discussed by Binna Kandola in his video “Diffusing Bias”, is that we have to accept the fact that we all have unconscious bias meaning that we tend to judge people in a bias way without even noticing it. Although we have unconscious bias, we should learn how to “not display our biases”; this can be done by recognizing that we’re being bias and controlling this bias by not acting upon it.

The last point, which I concluded after playing multiple games such as SPENT and Syrian Journey: Choose Your Own Escape Route, is that to be able to understand the feelings of someone, it’s not enough to read about what he/she has been through, instead you’ll have to put yourself in his/her shoes and see how would you act and how would you feel going through the same experience, and until you do so, you won’t be able to actually UNDERSTAND how this particular person felt, you’ll be just imagining.

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