MANUFACTURED EMOTIONS

The outpouring of grief at public places is quite common these days. Such public display of affection or sorrow doesn’t embarrass some people.  One of the possible reasons is our “vicariously experiencing so much manufactured embarrassment on the screen.” Public mourning metamorphosing into ‘recreational grief’ is a common phenomenon. An expression similar in spirit to ‘recreational grief’ is ‘conspicuous compassion’.  The reality television regularly puts itself into questionable and embarrassing situations for our viewing enjoyment. And we enjoy the embarrassing conduct on the screen.  Even for a flimsy reason silence is observed. Like other inflations, ‘compassion inflation’ is spreading its tentacles. As one commentator observes, “We live in a post-emotional age, one characterized by crocodile tears and manufactured emotion.” Such public outpourings show that society is becoming selfish. It only cares to project ego. Caring is becoming more and more ‘ostentatious caring’. Embarrassment is dying. Our eagerness to broadcast our individuality is getting headlines. The most worrying thing is that we have begun to reject embarrassment, as if it is something of a bygone age.

Can society afford the death of embarrassment? Embarrassment is one of our social emotions. Embarrassment evolved to maintain social order. It is a marker of humanity. It is a kind of barometer for society’s notions of civility. When we ignore social niceties, we are not only embarrassing ourselves, we are also sowing doubt in others about our social standing. Embarrassment reinforces our commitment to group norms. The subtle signals of embarrassment are indicators of respect of the view of others and our commitment to moral and social order. Another observation of the researchers is that shy people with higher empathy levels (the ability to imagine how others may be feeling) feel more easily embarrassed. When you admit to embarrassment, you show that the incident is not shameful. It shows that the embarrassing incident was nothing more than a brief lapse. A person who is not embarrassed is the one in whom empathy is missing. He cannot see his inadequacies. And the people who are unwilling to express embarrassment, mark themselves as socially suspect. For obvious reasons, beware of the person who don’t feel embarrassed.

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