The following is a selected section from my book Better Living Through Selected Apathy, now available on Amazon both in electronic form and in paperback.


Apathy is defined in the Oxford Dictionary as lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern. What, then, is Selective Apathy? Selective Apathy is purposefully making a choice regarding what you do not allow to take hold of your interest, enthusiasm, or concern. In short, it is deciding what you will, and absolutely will not, give a wet slap about.

Apathy is a term which is frequently thought of in a negative way. However, apathy can be a useful response and solution to the problems of stress, anxiety, and disappointment. It can allow us to view something from a more objective standpoint, divorced from the emotional baggage that can come with it. Apathy and its ability to separate us from emotions can make possible a thoughtful response instead of a knee-jerk reaction. This gives us time to acquire all information necessary to formulate an educated opinion before we continue the interaction. In other words, it gives us time to read the entire article before we react to only the headline. It gives us time to process the information and educate ourselves, which reduces the anxiety caused by fear of not knowing more about that information.

Sometimes we experience negative feelings when our full attention cannot be given to each and every worthy cause. We are almost constantly being inundated with information from a myriad of questionable sources, and we are expected by our family and friends to validate our relationships with them by investing ourselves emotionally along with them. They sometimes react negatively if they feel we don’t immediately echo back that their cause du jour is important enough to warrant our undivided attention and support. In fact, they can see your own lack of a matched emotional response as some sort of invalidation of themselves. This is simply not sustainable as a way to interact socially. Thus, it is important for us to be selective with what we choose to give our attention, regardless of who is presenting us with the information. I am not advocating building a stone wall to keep out these invaders, but rather, a firewall which keeps out everything other than what you have chosen to let in.

Look back at the multiple-choice question I posed. Notice that three of the four responses to the question “Why do you care?” have answers which show that you do, in fact, care. Selective Apathy is not a lack of caring. The Oxford definition of apathy doesn’t mention caring at all. Selective Apathy is not choosing for what you have care. It is choosing for what you are willing to have interest, concern, or enthusiasm. I am rearranging that order from the Oxford definition in order to create the acronym I.C.E. Yes, I realize that it doesn’t exactly convey a picture of a warm person, but think of it as advice to be generally “chill” about things. Interest, concern, and enthusiasm for things which fall under the first three responses to that multiple-choice question are all good responses to have. If you are asking “Why do you care?” then you are analyzing the information objectively.

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