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Movie Friday: Empathy Boosters

This week we were treated to a bizarre bit of performance art by a commenter who decided to make no fewer than two threads completely about him and his “wisdom” about why victim blaming is okay (but when he does it, it’s not victim blaming). Y’all were way more patient with him than I would have been, but eventually I stepped in and moved him to moderation (GASP! Free speech! FTBullies! Feminazis!) because there seemed to be no bottom to his cluelessness.

Fun times.

Anyway, keeping with the theme of “Required Reading”, today’s video is perhaps best termed “Required Watching”:

I’m not sure if this merits a trigger warning, but if you’ve ever been bullied, be aware that this is likely going to make you cry (or at least that’s what I’m hearing from others). It is an absolutely pitch-perfect blend of expert spoken word and brilliant animation, whose theme is not “it gets better”, but rather “you who are reading this survived”. It’s a call to the rest of us that the trite advice of “don’t feed the bullies” and “kids will be kids” and other grit-your-teeth-isms do nothing more than make people feel isolated and abandoned as they try to deal with their pain. What is needed is greater empathy, and for us to stand up for, and with, victims of bullying.

The second empathy booster is a “game” called Depression Quest:

Depression Quest is an interactive fiction game where you play as someone living with depression. You are given a series of everyday life events and have to attempt to manage your illness, relationships, job, and possible treatment. This game aims to show other sufferers of depression that they are not alone in their feelings, and to illustrate to people who may not understand the illness the depths of what it can do to people.

I have never had to contend with clinical depression, but the descriptions I have heard from psychology classes and from survivors is that the biggest obstacle to getting better is the combination of the disease sapping your will to act, whilst simultaneously making you feel guilty for not acting more. This game models that fairly well, and is probably a decent ‘first step’ for people who don’t have a lot of knowledge about depression. One thing I thought was missing was the same victim-blaming element (which I may just not have seen on my couple of play-throughs), where people give you what they think is helpful advice, but what is actually just an unwelcome (and shallow) intrusion into your brain.

Anyway, these are also things to keep in your pocket in case there’s someone in your life who could use an empathy boost.

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