Empathy doesn't mean liking somebody else. It means being able to put yourself in their place, which is always a very big misunderstanding.
The human capacity for empathy allows us to communicate, collaborate and understand each other. But we all know empathy isn’t always easy, and we can feel worn down by the effort. MIT professor and researcher Sherry Turkle studies empathy, and particularly how technology can undermine our natural human tendencies to connect. After several books and many decades of work compiling research on other people, Turkle looked inward to write, “The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir.” She explores how she arrived at her subject matter, which she says is not just a profession, but a calling. In this interview from the archives, Tricia Johnson, the editorial director of the Aspen Ideas Festival, interviews Turkle on stage at the 2021 festival. The event was Turkle’s first in-person book talk since the Covid pandemic hit. They discuss the role and power of being an outsider, how to build your empathy muscles, and the vital function of long-term relationships.