The Psychological Impossibility of Tragedy in the Mind of Someone Living in the Twenty-First Century

“It wasn’t only wickedness and scheming that made people unhappy, it was confusion and misunderstanding; above all, it was the failure to grasp the simple truth that other people are as real as you.” – Ian McEwan

They say the biggest distance between two people is misunderstanding. It creates this gap between people. Or is it a wall? And it’s frustrating, isn’t it? It does make you feel as if you’re alone, the only one who thinks and says and acts in a certain way.

And by feeling so don’t we diminish others as well? Don’t we fail to understand that even though they are different, they’re still inherently the same as us? And they deserve to be treated the same way we’d like to be treated.

I don’t know, it’s a difficult question to answer.

But could you hate someone if you knew why they do what they do? If you could truly understand them? Their thoughts? Their feelings? Know their past? Their struggles? What they want? What they have lost?

That’s the thing, I’m afraid. It’s not that we are incapable o caring about others, it’s just that we rarely get to know them. To really know them. And thus we never get to understand them. And the wall is still there…

We’re all strong enough to endure someone else’s tragedy.

I used to add this line to every single one of the novels I wrote.

It seems to me that the most technologically advanced era in human history is one of isolation and desensitization.

What I mean by that?

Walk into any coffee shop or bar and you’ll see folks reading news on their phone (it used to be newspapers, now it’s social media), TVs preaching all sorts of tragedies, fires, deaths, and chaos.

It seems the world is busy destroying itself.

Of course, this is but a biased perspective that we are being fed, but nonetheless…

It’s what we see all around us. Despair. Violence. In movies, art, video-games, news, you name it.

And whether or not it turns us into creatures of violence, I am quite certain it makes us less sensitive to our inner humanity. And to that of others.

Simply put, deaths become statistics. Numbers. Meaningless information. Everybody seems to have it really bad, and it seems impossible to find the time to relate to this on a human level.

There are so many of us that most times we feel utterly and inconsolably alone.


  1. I like to take note when I go anywhere, how many people are on their phones. I don’t have a smart phone. I get internet at home on my laptop. I like to stay disconnected as much as possible. When I go somewhere I am shocked by how many people are stuck on their phones. No one talks in person to each other anymore. There is no connection other than on our phones or social media. I am old fashioned and like to write letters to people using pen and paper. I hand make gifts for family. I am raising my kids the same way. I want them to see people as more than just numbers or screens on their phones. My hope is that they can help the world shut off their technology and live again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I have given up on Facebook, but I do need to stay connected. That’s my work, and it’s kind of difficult to give up on technology like this. It still takes a lot of my willpower to give up on it enough to do other things too.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. If we had to change this then we have to change up the weapons we use in fighting culture. The weapons of rhetoric politics and outright Warfare will never suffice to bring about Unity peace or the elevation of our race. The only weapons that will help here are compassion, generosity, praise, recognition of a power higher than ourselves, and a commitment to beauty and excellence.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
    Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “But could you hate someone if you knew why they do what they do? If you could truly understand them? Their thoughts? Their feelings? Know their past? Their struggles? What they want? What they have lost?” … Taking time to learn these things changes how we view others. We CAN learn a different way of being with and for each other. And it begins inside the heart of each of us. We need to be more aware. Thanks for sharing your thoughts so eloquently.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, Deborah.

      I think that we need at least a bit of empathy. Not that much. Just enough to realize that people are simple-hearted and quite naive, and that we ourselves are too.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. One of the first concepts I was taught when I began breaking out of the box of uniform thinking is that “the system” teaches us to have an external locus of control. We spend out time studying, thinking about stuff outside ourselves: technology, doing our job, whatever. We need to be spending more of our time truly understanding ourselves, and you say in this article, by doing so we also better understand everyone else.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, yes. Society makes us live in a very unnatural manner. We are not designed to live in groups of people that large, in this manner.

      I think most of human history is just us trying to escape death and making all sorts of weird choices because of this.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I always wonder, how people behave weirdly. Our world is full of negativity. What we need a flow of positivity, only that can bring peace. We have become robots, totally dependable on the technology. Which is very dangerous as we are loosing the emotional attachment, which can only be attained by meeting and greeting with other as much as possible. In my country, old people use to sit in a group every morning and evening, we called it a Chaupal. They used to discuss all matters about family and neighbours. We always laughed and found it disgusting. But now I realized they actually cared about others and tried to find a solution for anyone in there neighbours. They created a strong bonds with each and every person near them. Now I realized, we all are living with each other but we are not together.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s not that we, as in the people, don’t see what’s happening around them. It’s just that with the rat race, everyone’s so busy thinking about themselves that it doesn’t affect them.
    I mean, if something tragic happened to someone you know (touch wood), you’d be more open to empathizing.
    Otherwise, even the media only advertises the bad in society and there’s so much of it, with or without exaggeration, that it’s almost impossible to keep a positive mind if we take everything into our active thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

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