Interpreting Apathy

After the Project Work Presentation, I seem ’empowered’ by a strong sense of apathy – but the feeling ultimately stems from something else (not the Project Work). I have always been curious about the feeling of apathy, given how infectious it has been amongst the youth and the elderly in recent times. There are reasons for being happy and sad, emotions correlate with some matters in reality and so should apathy – but what?

The answer struck me as I continue to pursue the roots of the emotion, backtracking from the feeling to it’s source. I realized that apathy can be generally explained by ‘an expected sense of disappointment’. In other words, people are apathetic towards something because they feel that the outcome would be disappointing to them. Therefore, apathy can be easily summarized by the line, ‘What’s the point of doing [something]?’. I considered a few cases: Why would people be apathetic towards nation-building? Because they believe that they can effect no change (a huge source of disappointment and a great opportunity to ask ‘What’s the point?’). Then why would youths be apathetic towards some traditional art form? Probably because they think they wouldn’t be successful in mastering it anyway.

Having understood the explanation behind apathy, I questioned the sudden emergence of such an emotion in the times of modernization. I believe it is because of the flow of information and the infamous preoccupation with speed. Wanting to succeed quickly, and being able to see how many have done so, one with the expectation that one would be disappointed quickly becomes discouraged and do not even care to engage in the activity. But why do I mention that I am ’empowered’ by apathy. The feeling, I realised, stems from the expectation for disappointment but it acts as a reaction to this expectation – it does so by dismissing the activity/task in concern. In other words, when I know I can’t effect a change in terms of nation-building, I think nation-building is not important. In that way, I continue to justify my disregard for the activity I expect to be disappointed in.

I guess apathy is a strong barrier that helps holds us up most of the time. It is perhaps an important feeling for those with some kind of inferiority complex, but unfortunately, apathy is one that leads to further isolation, very much in line with the existantialist standpoint. Nothing can rid anyone of apathy other than the wearing off of the expectation of disappointment – probably anything that can build confidence. Apathy can destroy policies and plans within systems, but it also disrupts the spirit of man and may not necessarily be something healthy to feel about. Though existantialists may tend to disagree.

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