Friday, November 16, 2012

Asymmetrical Empathy

"I can do it, why can't you?", says the villain to the prey.


Our brains require a definition to perceive the presence of something... or the absence of it.
Without a definition, that “something” becomes irrelevant to the brain.

An intrinsic value is one that can’t be judged by just looking at a person. It is the type of quality that a person applies internally as part of his or her self image through actions and results. The process of interpreting actions and results into an intrinsic value differs from person to person because they each carry a unique lens. People willfully choose the intrinsic qualities that build their sense of self as a normal function of ego.

Our bag of definitions for the perception of an intrinsic value comes mainly from those chosen to define the self. We tend to use ourselves as a template when judging the presence or absence of a certain human quality in another. We judge potential friends, family members, and colleagues through this lens of symmetry. A dedicated athlete may judge a career-oriented person based on health-related habits. An English major may judge a CEO based on spelling and punctuation, and an engine programmer may judge a gameplay programmer based on their understanding of SPU assembly.

We do this instinctively without effort because our minds are hard-wired to understand symmetry. It is much easier for us to judge whether something is present or absent in another by checking for a one-to-one match with things present in the self. Symmetrical evaluation results in the following trend:
  1. COMFORT: Worthy intrinsic value present in both
  2. JUDGEMENT: Worthy intrinsic value present in the self, but missing in the other
  3. NEUTRAL: Worthy intrinsic value missing in the self, but present in the other
  4. NEUTRAL: Worthy intrinsic value missing in both
As far as this trend goes, #3 indicates potential wasted data. We typically require five positive interactions for every negative interaction. Neutral interactions are ambiguous. For most people, the evaluation of this 5-to-1 ratio operates with a blind spot that can result in up to 50% data loss.

Symmetry is not enough. There are properties in others that are invisible to the self. Inversely, there are properties in the self that are invisible to others. Compassion for others who are not like the self requires...
  • SELF AWARENESS: Embracing the parts of you that can’t be compared to others
  • TRUST: Believing that intrinsic qualities you have not become aware of do exist, and that others might have this quality that you currently do not have the means to perceive
  • IMAGINATION: In order to defeat your villain, you must think like your villain. You must match your brainwave patterns to those of your villain's brain. Only then will you be able to find the bomb and save the city, but beware... you might fall in love with your villain or become a new villain in the process
We define ourselves and others through silhouettes; the challenge is to build definitions without using the self as a boundary.