KATZ Yeah an incel. And he like pursued his ex-girlfriend and it was all of this. And then you gave someone an edit test, I think, and they were like, this is an incel. So he’s stalking her and told the story completely differently. I’ll never forget that episode because it talks about, I mean, how we as humans can completely listen to a story wrong and that sometimes empathy can be wrong. Also as a journalist, I mean, what was it like for you in that moment where you got that story and you thought, wow, this is completely different?
ALIX Yeah. I mean, I think for Hannah, she was the reporter on that. That the realization that, so this is a very Invisibilia realization, the realization that empathy and the way that we people are just like, oh, empathy is good. And I was certainly raised that way. To realize all of a sudden that empathy itself is an ideology. And it was like all of the current ways that we think about empathy were constructed at a very particular point in time, after the Second World War, when it was seen as a way of not getting into problems like the Second World War. And then I was kind of raised within that whole ideology and never even realized that it was an ideology, just thought it was the way that the world should be. And then there’s a younger generation that really-. So to answer your question, I went to- there’s this podcast, first of all, actually, this is where that episode came from. There is a podcast festival in the United States called Third Coast. And it’s a great podcast festival and I highly recommend anybody go in there and they have this great talk there by Chenjerai Kumanyika and where he was, he basically he played this NPR’s Morning Edition piece, which powers our local show here, I mean, our national show and it and he- basically it was a story about this Trump supporter and a Muslim supporter who found each other and felt empathy for each other, and he played it and then he said, this story is morally wrong. And I was just like huhwhat? Like. Why is this why would that story, which is a story that I’ve been making for 20 years, why is that morally wrong and why am I complicit for making that story? Because that was essentially the argument that he was making. And there’s a very complex set of reason. I mean, they’re not complex at all, essentially saying, like, you can’t offer empathy to somebody who is a Trump supporter and you can’t you cannot use empathy with people who have power.
KATZ And you can’t equate them, that’s part of it, that you can’t equate the Trump supporters empathy for the Muslim person with the Muslim person’s empathy for the Trump supporter, right.
ALIX So after, Hannah and I both went to that talk, and that talk was basically just like a punch in the face but a good one, you know. So now you have this idea, this is often what happens with Invisibilia, so now you have this idea of like, oh, this thing that I thought was the right way to be, is actually like an ideology that was born out of a specific time and place. And other generations have different ideologies. And we should, you know, surface that so that people have some choices about which of these ideologies they are going to subscribe to. And so, yeah, so then that just happened to happen and that woman took the exact same tape and made the opposite story. And the difference is- the difference was this thing, empathy. She’s from a new generation, like she has the younger generation’s approach to empathy. And on our staff, there was a huge split between like people who are older, like Hannah and I and people who are younger, who like- because we have lots of like 20 and 30 year olds on our stuff who are just like, you know, fuck this guy and the horse you rode in on. And you’re like, well, you know, but then how are we going to have a better world than they’re like, by shooting them dead or, you know, by shouting them down. So is that an issue? Where are you guys struggling with that as well or not really?
KATZ Um, I think to a degree. I’ve been living between the states and the Netherlands for the past few years. So it’s obviously been something I’ve been thinking a lot about, I would say here there’s a little bit more empathy for people who are against cancel culture, like it’s a little bit more freedom of speech oriented here, I would say. But I do think it’s changing that it’s hardening. But anyway, that’s a whole conversation. I get it too.
MISHA I would never have connected it in this way to empathy. I think that’s very interesting.