A Not-So-Apathetic View of Apathy

Not long ago, I was listening to The Fray’s 2005 hit, “Over my Head (Cable Car)”, and though I’ve done so hundreds of times, a line in it struck me as never before. Isaac Slade, the band’s lead’s singer, attributes the woes he mentions in the song to “nothing more than apathy.”

Because of various challenges I’ve encountered in recent years, the truth of the lyric registered with me. I began to realize how many of the problems we come up against stem from apathy, both on our part and others’. I’m not qualified to name the cause, but it seems to me that the feeling that prevails in the world is the lack of feeling.

How can I say this about a time when people share opinions and feelings perhaps more than society’s ever known? Frankly, self-expression doesn’t always mean a great amount of sentiments are behind it. True, some are very passionate in the views they share on various platforms, but others—again, in my estimation—just like to blow off steam. A lot of us present a character online, like we do in public, and enjoy letting our voices be heard, but how often do we forget what we’ve posted mere days later? I know I do. Most of the thoughts I may put on my social media pages were simply on my mind at the moments I did it and don’t stick with me past that.

It’s no secret negativity abounds on the web, which, again, could prove to some that I’m wrong about this air of apathy. However, while these negative remarks are usually anything but indifferent, I believe apathy lies beneath them. After all, what prompts one to write rude comments about acquaintances, supposed friends, and strangers alike? Isn’t it a lack of care for how others will be impacted?

If you ask me, this attitude hasn’t been contained to the internet. Even in the real world, I’ve watched people in my life show a lack of care about how their speech and actions affect others around them. Though they once manifested a kind, empathetic manner, suddenly, they don’t restrain themselves from making bold and cutting statements that pierce those to whom they’re talking. True, thoughtless words have long marred relations, and I’m willing to admit I’ve made my share of them, as well. Still, the ease, frequency, and lack of regret that accompanies these occurrences are frightening to observe, and I can only attribute it all to the topic of this post.

The most dangerous sort of apathy, though, is apathy concerning oneself. It’s a common sentiment that you can’t love others if you don’t love yourself, and I’d argue that if you’re apathetic about others, chances are you’re apathetic towards yourself, too. When someone says he’s “let himself go,” it brings to mind his physical features. But if we aren’t careful, a lack of care can damage our inner-self, too. It can take away our purpose, values, and drive, only eating away at the things about which we have to care.

Yes, the problems we all face are depressing, but the solution isn’t to numb yourself. After all, a tooth that’s injected with Novocain may not hurt, but how pleasurable is it to eat with it? Similarly, taking an apathetic approach to life may relieve you of the pain it can bring, but it also robs you of the joy it will bring.


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