Emotion, Empathy, and Glasses
Yesterday, I read this fascinating article in Good Magazine about a pair of glasses being designed by researchers that would amplify the ability of a doctor or nurse to detect slight changes in the hue beneath a person’s skin. If a person is flushed, it would show up more dramatically to one wearing the glasses. An anemic person’s blood would appear slightly more green, and doctors could see veins more easily, so there would be no more jabbing the wrong part of the arm with needles.
Dr. Mark Changizi, who is leading the research team, argues that there is another advantage, as well. The glasses allow the wearer to better read others, which can strengthen social and emotional connections.
Perhaps they should be called empathy glasses. Changizi’s point about the importance of reading others speaks to the significance of compassion and empathy. When we understand what others are feeling and experiencing, of course, it is more difficult for us to do anything that would harm them.
I heard a story on the radio a few days ago about video game-like programs being developed that would control drones that drop bombs thousands of miles away. From the perspective of the military, the advantage of this technology is that it dehumanizes the people being attacked. It takes away our ability to empathize.
Compassion and empathy are powerful forces that should not be underestimated. Indeed, they should be celebrated. And what better way to do that than by allowing us to see emotion in living color?