By Dalton Carver
If I cared to place a wager, which I don’t, I would definitely place a bet that apathy is one of the top three daily emotions that are felt on college campuses around the world. Apathy, by definition, is a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern. How many times have you heard “I just flunked that quiz, but I really don’t care,” or maybe, “I’m not interested in that class, so I don’t care what grade I get.” If you haven’t heard those two, then maybe you’ve heard this one, “My boyfriend/girlfriend just broke up with me, but I just don’t care.”
I think that an extremely interesting question to think about is, “Would we be talking or thinking about the topic at all if we didn’t care?” Would it really be on our minds, our tongues, or in our friend’s ears? Why do we have to verbalize that we don’t care to make it true? Does apathy even exist if no one is around to hear it?
My answers, behind closed doors of course, would be that I actually did care about that flunked test, that uninteresting class and the lost significant other and that if I was shown caring about any of those things, I would be showing that I was a failure or weak to be feeling such emotions. In certain atmospheres, showing that you do care would be the end of your involvement in said atmosphere. For example, in any athletic atmosphere, weakness is condemning on so many levels, especially your playing time and position.
I think another kind of apathy is just when we’re lazy and we don’t want to complete the tasks that we’re assigned to. It feels like too much work, so we decide that we don’t care about it, which somehow makes the entire concept of not doing our work seem okay. However, we change our mind quickly when we receive the consequences for not doing what we’re supposed to do. In some situations, this may result in being fired from a job we desperately need or being cut from a team that we love playing with. After these situations happen because of our “apathy”, we turn right to it again, saying that we don’t care that we just lost our job or that we got cut from our team.
It’s a vicious cycle of indifference that drags in other emotions such as weakness, embarrassment and failure. These are emotions that we shouldn’t be afraid to talk to someone about. The cycle will continue until we decide to take initiative and do the tasks required of us, which will result in us not having to say that we don’t care. Instead, we’ll say that we did our work with effort and pride, and because of that we’ll be satisfied no matter what the outcome is.
Apathy also seems to occur when we attempt something on several occasions, but end up falling short every single time. Eventually, we’re tired of getting back up to try again, so we conclude that we don’t care. It’s a simple answer to a complicated task, and we usually accept this as something that we can’t fix. Time can help with these sorts of problems, taking some before approaching to tackle the situation again.
None of these topics or situations can be answered by something as simple and one-dimensional as “I don’t care.” There’s always a reason behind our apathy, whether we want to talk about it or not. Being human beings with extremely potent and decision-impacting emotions, not caring really isn’t encoded into our systems. That being said, we all have those days where we’re emotionless robots, myself included. However, these days never last, and eventually our emotional motivation prevails and we conquer our own personal cases of the “I don’t care’s.”
Dalton Carver is a freshman majoring in Communication. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.