In the Building Empathy Challenge, competitors will be asked to design an app to allow users to “try on another person’s life” for at least two hours. Leveraging gamification, augmented or virtual reality, assessments or other means, competitors will design an experience by which the user experiences life as the person they are standing in as. The Empathy App will have an addictive, viral feel. People will be compelled to try on another person’s life – perhaps celebrities at first, and then a homeless person, and then a dissident in Syria. The application will leverage the most advanced entertainment, gaming and reality experiences to compel participants to participate. They will experience social situations, work situations and daily life situations of the person they are experiencing. They will be treated as the other person is commonly treated. They will experience the thoughts, beliefs, and fears of the other person. They will truly walk in their shoes. Before and after surveys and testing will measure their level of empathy for the other person.
Empathy: The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another, either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience clearly communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
The world is more polarized than ever. A rise of nationalism or focusing on one’s community at the expense of others, has overtaken the world, from BREXIT in the UK to the election of Donald Trump in the US and to the more than 65 countries have erected fences on their borders. Some have asked how, in this globally connected world, would people choose to shut borders, build walls and cut themselves off from others?
People are scared and don’t just strongly disagree with each other these days; we seem to strongly dislike each other. Spurred on by the rise of social media, people are increasingly associating only with others who support their worldview. It is entirely possible to go through one’s day and see and experience messages that only support their personal beliefs.
If polarization is on the rise and this tribalism is causing division, disgust, and hate in the world, then it is essential for us to seek new ways to connect and understand others.
Sheila Kloefkorn, CEO of KEO Marketing, has a personal interest in increasing global empathy by leveraging immersive, cutting edge technological experiences to empower the public with exposure and new perspectives. Sheila believes that empathy is an essential component of human society. She believes the experience of “walking in another person’s shoes” is the foundation for developing empathy.
“Empathy moves us to share in another’s pain, to really see the world through their eyes. When we do, it very often changes the kind of decisions and actions we take. When empathy is in full bloom, many things change, and it becomes almost impossible not to help.” - David R. Hamilton Ph.D.