Sympathy, and the Inverse Square law

Posted: November 13, 2015 in Rant

I recently bumped to an old friend and discovered she was recovering from having a brain tumour removed. I didn’t know about until I saw her, and one of our friends, who’d also not seen her in a while asked why she hadn’t put anything on Facebook. Her reply made perfect sense to me.

She didn’t want lots of people giving faux sympathy.

She knew that her condition would attract lots of people sending messages, publicly, saying how sorry they were, etc., yet in reality, only a few would be genuine in their support, offering their time to help her through. 

Whenever there’s a tragedy, you’ll see certain celebrities sending messages of support, sat in their comfy homes, because it’s an easy way for them to look good.

And the same affliction affects many of those on social media.

If somebody has some tragedy, there will always be those who will (publicly) post messages saying how sorry they feel, and if they can do anything… But they don’t really mean it. They say it to (a) make themselves look good, and (b) make them feel good about themselves, that they may actually be a nice person.

Someone asked me earlier if there were really that many fakes out there.

I am afraid so,

I have, on many occasions, put myself out to help someone. I’ve taken time out to talk to people who just needed someone to talk to, whether it be in the middle of my working day, or in the middle of the night. I have only ever refused once (so far), and that was partly because I was so ill I could not have possibly had a positive effect on the person who needed to talk, and partly because it wouldn’t have done me any good either. That may sound selfish, but how can I help someone else to be in a good place when I am not myself?

However what is a little disheartening is the number of people who I’ve trusted with my time and friendship who’ve actually returned the favour at some point – to give a little time for me if I need it.

Even though I’ve been bitten several times and trusted someone unworthy of my trust, I still don’t have an easy way to determine who will be a true friend, and who will be a transient friend.

However, on the whole I would say that the more noisily, or publicly, someone tweets their sympathetic noises to someone in distress, the less likely they are to actually do anything, in something akin to an inverse square relationship.

After all, if someone wants to pass on their thoughts and support to someone having a hard time, they would do it them personally and not publicly.

I am very grateful to those lovely people who have put up with my ranting the past few days. Thank you for being there for me when I needed it.



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