Two weeks ago I wrote about how one of my clients has embraced empathy as core to their business strategy. How seeing through customers’ eyes, thinking in their minds, and feeling with their hearts will allow them to interact, connect and satisfy needs at a much deeper level.
So of course the visionaries at Facebook have just announced a breathtakingly efficient way to accomplish these same things.
Click a button.
That’s right. If you should experience a death in the family, all I have to do for you to be deeply touched by how I share in your suffering is click. If only the Buddha had had such a tool.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explains:
“What people really want is the ability to express empathy. Not every moment is a good moment.”
Yes, not every moment is a good moment.
And the reactions?
Susan Pinker in The Globe and Mail writes:
“Clicking an icon on Facebook to express empathy has to be the laziest, most inadequate reaction to other people’s misfortune. You could call and listen to what’s wrong. Better still, invite them over for a meal. If they’re not up to going out, you could bring over their favourite foods, send flowers or a handwritten note. An e-mail offering sympathy might be appreciated if you’re far away and the message is heartfelt. In it you could ask how you can help.”
Roman Krznaric in The Guardian weighs in:
“Clicking a button as an act of empathy represents the worst kind of digital slacktivism. It substitutes genuine action in the real world for a momentary online act that might salve the conscience but does little else.”
Gail Rosenblum of The Minneapolis Star Tribune adds:
“Facebook already has a wonderful, and underutilized, empathy button. It’s called “log out,” and it’s very easy to use. You simply click on it, and you immediately return to the real world, which is full of people who likely aren’t always enjoying good moments.”
Maybe I should be celebrating this. If companies adopt this click-to-empathize approach, then I’m betting the farm that my client’s commitment to empathy sets them apart in a big way.