I’m not much of a documentary viewer. I enjoy them, but they are not what I usually gravitate towards. I watch a whole lot of TV, and some trash if I’m being honest with you, so I do try to drop in on a few biographical or informative shows every once in a while.
When I saw the trailer of Apple TV+’s Dear…, I thought I might as well give it a try. The show follows an inventive new approach by highlighting a different public figure’s story via different letters written to them by people they have personally touched. I am a big Lin-Manuel Miranda fan and clicked on his episode to start with to see if I like the concept.
Boy, did I.
I watched one episode after the next, until I noticed the time was getting much later than I had expected. I enjoyed listening to stories from people of all different backgrounds and with absolutely incredible stories, some of which I connected with and others have opened my eyes to struggled I never even imagined were possible.
It got me thinking a lot about empathy. I like to think of myself as a fairly empathetic person, or at least I try to be as much as possible. But suddenly, I was questioning if I ever really was. I realized I was very privileged in many ways, which left me blind to many of the world’s injustices and the sad realities others consider the norm.
As I was going through this downward thought spiral, I found an article written by Dr. Jamil Zaki, an associate professor of psychology at Stanford, where he said “But these days, the rules that encourage empathy are being broken. More than ever, humans are urban, isolated, and anonymous to each other. We meet irregularly, often in online spaces that privilege outrage and leave cruelty unpunished. We are increasingly tribal, and sometimes view outsiders not as human beings but as symbols of ideas and groups we fear and hate. And when we learn about tragedy, it’s often as an abstraction. We might hear about thousands of people affected by a disaster or civil war, but think of them only as faceless statistics, without any way to access their emotions.”
While the article does provide ways of improving your empathy on the personal level, it left me incredibly sad to think that something like this was even needed in the first place. Were people really that bad? Was I really that ignorant? I watched one last episode of the show and decided enough was enough. I was not going to just spend my time overthinking about empathy when I could be using my time to educate myself. The show was a beautiful reminder that good still exists and inspiration is everywhere.
For those of you looking for something heartwarming to watch, or need a reminder that the world really isn’t all that bad, watch Dear… on Apple TV+. It inspired me to write my own letter to someone very near and dear to me, the contents of which I may or may not post on the blog very soon.